Industries Duelling For Attention Over GIs In Trade Deals 23/04/2015 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe here. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate. The trade promotion authority (TPA), or fast-track, legislation proposed by three senators last week in the US Congress contains provisions that would reinforce the US position on limiting geographical indications in trade deals. At the same time, European-led industry groups held an event in Washington to highlight the advantages of GIs in trade deals. TPA limits Congress to a yes-or-no vote on trade deals negotiated by the administration. The Senate TPA legislation, S. 995, is available here. It contains a range of provisions on intellectual property (p. 15), including some firm language on IP enforcement on the internet, and on ensuring World Trade Organization rules are followed. On GIs, it states: “(3) TRADE IN AGRICULTURE.—The principal negotiating objective of the United States with respect to agriculture is to obtain competitive opportunities for United States exports of agricultural commodities in foreign markets substantially equivalent to the competitive opportunities afforded foreign exports in United States markets and to achieve fairer and more open conditions of trade in bulk, specialty crop, and value added commodities by— ….. (U) eliminating and preventing the undermining of market access for United States products through improper use of a country’s system for protecting or recognizing geographical indications, including failing to ensure transparency and procedural fairness and protecting generic terms.” A House version of the TPA bill is expected to be forthcoming. A US industry group call the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) issued a statement applauding the inclusion of “strong language” in the TPA bill “on the need to curtail improper use of geographical indications (GI), addressing a growing threat to food and beverage producers who use common names for their products.” CCFN, which says it is an international non-profit alliance, “works on behalf of food and beverage producers, associations and cooperatives globally to protect the right to use generic names and terms used on everything from cheeses and meats, to wine and specialty foods.” “The GI provision recognizes that we have a real problem of the European Union wielding the leverage of its free trade agreements to give advantage to select EU producers, and this is unacceptable,” CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda said in the release. “This abuse of GI policy is harmful to US exporters, as well as producers in many developing countries around the world.” Castaneda said leaders in Congress have been supportive of this view. Addressing the improper use of GI policy is “especially critical for the US as it negotiates trade agreements with the EU and Pacific Rim nations,” he said. “In the past three years, the EU’s aggressive new approach to GIs in trade agreements has threatened to negatively impact the use of such generic names as “parmesan”, “feta” and “bologna”, the group said. “CCFN reports that the problem could become much worse if GI proponents adopt revisions this year that would expand an international register for their terms known as the Lisbon Agreement,” it said. “We promote approaches that protect both legitimate GIs and generic food names,” said Castaneda, “but we oppose attempts to monopolize common names that are part of the public domain.” The Importance of an Agreement on GIs Separately, an event was held in Washington, DC entitled, “TTIP Negotiations: Why an Agreement on GIs Matters. On the Eve of the 9th Round of the TTIP Negotiations, US & EU GIs Share the Same Aspirations.” US and EU negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are meeting this week nearby in New York. The event, held at the Embassy of Italy, involved representatives from GI product industries from both sides of the Atlantic. The event was organised by the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC, the Geneva-based Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (oriGIn), the American Origin Products Association (AOPA), and the Italian Association of GI Consortia (AICIG). “A boost to sustainable agriculture and long-term jobs, as well as truthful information to consumers, are the main benefits” from a GI agreement in the TTIP, oriGIn said in a release. Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero told the event, “Safeguarding GIs is a priority of the Government of Italy. The TTIP is an opportunity for a dialogue between the EU and the U.S. on appropriate and pragmatic solutions. The event … is intended to increase awareness of this matter, in particular, on the importance of bringing the US consumer accurate information on the origins and manufacture of GI products.” A US panellist said GI groups on both sides of the Atlantic share the same aspirations. “The large variety of American origin products represents a tremendous potential for the US agricultural sector in terms of sustainable development,” said Butch Weege, AOPA president. “Meanwhile, producers in the US stand to gain by reaching an agreement with the EU on GIs. Our producers need protection just like producers in the EU.” The linkage between GIs, their protection, and sustainable agriculture was drawn by Patrick Kole, vice president of the Idaho Potato Commission. “Sustainability is synonymous with successful agriculture, Kole said in the release. “Product differentiation is an essential part of creating value without which there is no sustainability. Protecting unique products through fair and balanced intellectual property systems must be part of trade agreements moving forward.” AICIG Secretary General Pier Maria Saccani explained the benefits that the system of protection, certification, and controls of GIs brought to the Italian agriculture, in particular in terms of sustainability, the release said. For oriGIn Managing Director Massimo Vittori, “Creating stable jobs is one of today’s major challenges. Likewise, more and more demanding consumers demand truthful information about the origin and characteristics of products they wish to purchase. By showing that GIs have a crucial role to play on both sides of the Atlantic in responding to those challenges, today GI groups from the US and the EU are sending a clear message to the negotiators: GIs in the TTIP must be looked at as an opportunity in terms of jobs, sustainable development and consumers’ protection.” Following the presentation and the Q&A session, participants enjoyed a lunch prepared with authentic GI products – Asiago, Idaho Potatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Prosciutto di Parma, Speck Alto Adige and Wisconsin Ginseng – as well as a taste of GI wines and spirits – Chianti Classico, Napa Valley, Prosecco and Tequila. Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."Industries Duelling For Attention Over GIs In Trade Deals" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.