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Dairy Facts 2016

IDFA, Others Seek Clarification on GIs in Central America

Oct 09, 2013

The Consortium for Common Food Names, of which IDFA is a member, sent a letter last week to the trade ministers of Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama regarding the European Union’s aggressive approach to geographical indication (GI) applications for common food names. The U.S. dairy industry is concerned that market access previously negotiated under the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and U.S.-Panama FTA is being threatened by the recent trade agreements signed between the EU and Central American countries.

The letter calls for clarity regarding the use of the generic terms by for cheese products actively being sold by the United States in the region. By employing GIs, which provide producers in a specific region the exclusive right to use a particular product name, the EU aims to limit the use of food names that the United States and many other countries recognize as generic. Questions remain on whether U.S. companies will be able to continue using generic terms like feta and parmesan in Central American markets under the new agreements.

IDFA will continue to work to ensure U.S. dairy exporters are not locked out of key markets by the EU. As negotiations continue in the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the United States and the EU, geographical indications will be a top priority for IDFA.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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