Australia releases list of GI products Europe seeks to protect in FTA negotiations

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-13 15:10:04|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CANBERRA, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) is demanding geographical indicators for more than 400 alcohol and food products in the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Australia.

Simon Birmingham, Australia minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, on Tuesday released a list of 172 foods and 236 spirits the EU wants protected in return for a FTA.

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used for products originated in a specific location and possess qualities that are due to that origin. The most famous example is Champagne, which is produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.

"Australia doesn't like the idea of geographical indications but this is a not-negotiable element from the European Union," Birmingham told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"We will put up a strong fight in terms of areas of Australian interests and ultimately what we're trying to do is get the best possible deal that ensures Australian businesses and farmers can get better access to a market engaging 500 million potential consumers."

The list given to Australia by the EU includes claims on feta, a cheese that originates from Greece, gruyere from Switzerland, roquefort from France and gorgonzola from Italy.

It also includes spirits such as ouzo, cognac, grappa and Irish and Scotch whiskies. Scotch beef and scotch lamb are on the list but will be removed if Britain leaves the EU.

Australian producers were expecting the EU to seek protections on the names brie, pecorino and camembert but they were not on the list.

Birmingham has given the relevant industries three months to express their views on the GIs being sought by the EU.

"I think many aspects of Australian industry will find this list is not as bad as they had feared," he said.

But there are still sensitivities which needs to be worked through, according to Birmingham.

"That's why it's out there for three months and I'll certainly be spending my time speaking with cheesemakers, the dairy industry, spirit producers and other affected areas during that time."