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Coalition to Oppose GI Protections in Japan-EU Trade Pact

Jul 26, 2017

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), of which IDFA is a founding member, is working to ensure that generic names for certain cheeses can remain in use in Japan, following the recently announced free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union. The coalition plans to file objections to the inclusion of several food names on the proposed list of protected geographical indications (GIs) in the agreement.

“The EU-Japan bilateral agreement could be an ominous portent for U.S. dairy exports to Japan,” said Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs. “The Department of Agriculture projects that U.S. milk production will grow by 23 percent over the next 10 years. Given that today we are exporting 15 percent of our total production, there needs to be increased export opportunities for approximately 80 billion pounds of milk during the next decade.”

The Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement would eliminate 99 percent of tariffs between the two countries and offer more than 200 agricultural GI protections, affecting common cheese names like asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola and Roquefort.

The U.S. dairy industry does not oppose legitimate GIs, but IDFA believes a fair trade deal would not impose restrictions on market access and intellectual property rights by including inappropriate GIs. Japan currently protects genuine GIs and does not restrict the use of generic terms.

The Japanese government has published the proposed list of GIs for comment, which is a protocol that the EU has not always employed in its previous trade negotiations with other countries. Japan’s process requires parties to submit a GI application for review and public comment before the government decides on protecting that name or term.

Japanese officials will accept comments until mid-October and will make its final decisions regarding requested protections following their review.

IDFA encourages member companies to review the list of proposed GIs and submit any objections to Hughes at so they can be included in the coalition’s comments.

About CCFN

The Consortium for Common Food Names is an independent, international, non-profit alliance that works with leaders in agriculture, trade and intellectual property rights to foster the adoption of high standards and model GI guidelines throughout the world.

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