EU monopolization of common food names a key focus for USTR | Dairy

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Wednesday released the 2021 National Trade Estimates Report, noting tariff and nontariff barriers impacting U.S. exports of goods and services. Among its top concerns for agricultural trade is “restrictions on the ability for U.S. producers to use the common names of products that they […]

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Wednesday released the 2021 National Trade Estimates Report, noting tariff and nontariff barriers impacting U.S. exports of goods and services.

Among its top concerns for agricultural trade is “restrictions on the ability for U.S. producers to use the common names of products that they produce and export.”

The U.S. “remains highly troubled by the EU’s overbroad protection of geographical indications, which adversely impacts both protections of U.S. trademarks and market access for U.S. products that use common names in the EU and third-country markets,” USTR said in the report.

The European Union’s aggressive and growing misuse of geographic indications in its trade agreements blocks U.S. exports of products with generic food names and wine terms, such as feta, bologna and chateau.

“USTR’s recognition of GI misuse as a means of confiscating market share is an important step toward proactively addressing this problem,” Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the Consortium for Common Food Names, said in a statement on USTR’s report.

“We are encouraged that CCFN members’ persistent work alongside the U.S. government on this issue has elevated the concerns surrounding GI abuse from a relatively obscure issue just a decade ago to a priority for the agency,” he said.

“It is imperative that USTR and its interagency partners work to ensure common names are not further restricted by the European Union’s blatant attempts at monopolizing generic terms that consumers around the world have come to know and love,” he said.

The consortium continues to work alongside USTR to build on the precedent set in the recent U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations on the inclusion of a list of common cheese names to be protected from GI restrictions in perpetuity. Similar proactive measures are necessary to ensure that products with common names can continue to be sold around the world without unfair limitations.

Castaneda also serves as senior vice president of trade policy for U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation, which have also raised strong concerns over the issue — as well as other barriers in key dairy markets such as Canada, China, Mexico and the EU.

Several of the groups’ concerns were incorporated in USTR’s report.

“Exports are extremely important to the U.S. dairy industry, which shipped more than $6.5 billion of product to destinations worldwide in 2020,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of U.S. Dairy Export Federation.

“Obstacles to those exports negatively affect the economic well-being of America’s dairy farmers and jeopardize dairy processing jobs and workers throughout the supply chain who support our industry. These barriers must be removed,” she said.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of National Milk, said “we need USTR to continue pressing our trading partners to eliminate tariffs and nontariff barriers that restrict our dairy exports. The best way to do that is by implementing new free trade agreements and enforcing existing agreements.”

USTR’s 570-page report examines 65 trading partners and country groups, highlighting significant barriers to U.S. trade. It can be found at: www.ustr.gov .

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