EU-China deal to protect iconic regional products

by AFP/ pic by AFP

BELGIUM – The European Union and China struck a deal on Tuesday to protect the geographic origins of 200 regional products like Roquefort cheese or Pu’er tea.

Henceforth, in trade between the global giants, consumers must trust that booze labelled as Scotch whisky comes from Scotland and Moutai liquor comes from Kweichow.

The accord makes good on promises made at the EU-China summit in April, and was finalised during a visit to China by French President Emmanuel Macron and European officials.

The food label deal comes as both sides have struggled for years to make way on a long delayed EU-China investment deal with Brussels extremely concerned about the lack of market access in China for foreign companies and the prevalence of state subsidies.

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan described the deal as a “win for both parties” that would strengthen trade ties and a protect farmers and consumers.

“Consumers are willing to pay a higher price, trusting the origin and authenticity of these products, while further rewarding farmers,” he said.

China is the EU’s second-largest market for agricultural exports, representing 12.8 billion euros between September 2018 and August 2019.

At the moment, goods now with protected “geographical indicators” represent nine percent of this total.

Europe’s list of 100 regional specialities includes many cheeses, like Spain’s manchego and Denmark’s danablu, as well as the wines of several French regions.

In China’s 100-strong list, Shaoxing rice wine will also be protected, along with Sichuan pao cai pickles and fruits such as the Tai Po honey pomelo.

The deal will go into effect before the end of next year, after it has been ratified by EU national leaders and MEPs.

Four years later the list will be expanded to cover another 175 products from each side.