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Consortium for Common Food Names Speaks Against Anti-Market GI Policies

March 7, 2019

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), of which NMPF is a member, submitted detailed comments Feb. 7 on the European Union’s abuse of geographical indications and related restrictions on the use of common food names to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office as part of the office’s annual “Special 301 Report” review.

USTR’s Special 301 Report identifies countries that are not providing adequate protection of intellectual property rights or are denying fair and equitable market access to Americans who rely on intellectual property protection. As a part of this review, the USTR solicits comments from the public identifying concerning policies or trade barriers.

NMPF, in partnership with the U.S. Dairy Export Council, submitted comments supporting CCFN’s outlined concerns regarding the abuse of GIs at the intentional expense of American companies, their employees and supplying farmers, specifically singling out egregious EU attempts to impede competition by adopting overly broad GI policies and pressuring countries to restrict common cheese names, such as parmesan and feta, in exchange for market access into the EU.

These policies are “anti-trade, anti-competitive, anti-free market, and anti-intellectual property,” NMPF wrote. “America and developing nations alike are harmed greatly by EU efforts to erect onerous trade barriers for common food name products, resulting in lost sales, jobs and economic development and undermining our existing free trade agreements.”

NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda, acting in his capacity as CCFN’s Executive Director, drove this point home further at a USTR-led hearing Feb. 27 designed to gather more information to inform USTR’s Special 301 Report. Castaneda urged the Administration to strongly oppose the EU’s increasingly aggressive efforts, saying that U.S. negotiators must stand firm and not “give into the EU’s sweeping demands on GI protections that over-step the bounds of fair trade.”

Through its active participation in CCFN, NMPF is continuously working dismantle trade barriers that prevent the U.S. dairy industry from selling common-name cheeses abroad.