The importance of geographical indications to the EU
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CTA. 2003. The importance of geographical indications to the EU. Agritrade, September 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52628
A memorandum outlining the significance of...
A memorandum outlining the significance of geographical designations to EU exporters was released by the European Commission on July 30th 2003. It pointed out that '85% of French wine exports use GIs' and '80% of EU exported spirits use GIs', and noted that French cheeses with a geographical designation are sold at a premium of €2 while Italian 'Toscano' oil has been sold at a premium of 20% since it was registered as a GI in 1998. GIs are seen as a 'unique asset' in an increasingly liberalised world. This forms part of a growing emphasis on the EU competing internationally on quality. However this requires international protection of those marks which constitute a designation of quality. The memorandum notes that a number of developing countries (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Kenya, Jamaica) also have an interest in GIs, and argues that GIs are about free trade, not protectionism. The EU's aim at the WTO is to: establish a multilateral register for geographical indications (TRIPS), operated in a simple and cost effective way; extend geographical indication protection to other products (TRIPS) such as rice, tea, cheese, ham; ensure market access for EU GI products (Committee on Agriculture) where restrictions currently exist. The EU currently has registered some 4,800 geographical indications (4,200 of them for wines and spirits). The memorandum outlines the economic and employment impact of GIs in different EU regions. The case of Spain is illustrative: in 1991 exports of GI products amounted to € 443 million by 1999 they exceeded € 1 billion. The Commission maintains that GIs create a 'genuine niche for the development of agri-food industries for relatively low development agricultural economies'. Comment: The issue of GIs is certainly of importance to a number of ACP countries in terms of the protection it could give to particularly highly regarded product varieties, but it also carries certain risks for a number of ACP countries, most notably those that have developed local industries replicating particular speciality products (e.g. Namibian hams and spirits based on German speciality products). Restructuring assistance may well be needed in these industries in order to develop new marketing strategies and brand recognition for products which will no longer be able to use the 'traditional' terms.