USTR Amplifies NMPF Concerns on Common Cheese Names in Key Report

NMPF push for U.S. action to address the EU’s campaign to claim exclusive rights to use common food names like “parmesan” and “feta” were highlighted in by the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office in an April 27 report on intellectual property impediments around the world.

USTR included in its annual Special 301 Intellectual Property Report  numerous policy concerns raised in January in a joint filing by NMPF and USDEC and also detailed in a separate filing by the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), which NMPF’s trade policy team staffs.

Echoing alarms raised by NMPF, USDEC and CCFN, the USTR report outlined global challenges on intellectual property issues, describing in detail the European Union’s (EU) campaign to eliminate competition in the global marketplace by restricting the use of common food and beverage terms.

“As part of its trade agreement negotiations, the EU pressures trading partners to prevent any producer, except those in certain EU regions, from using certain product names, such as fontina, gorgonzola, parmesan, asiago, or feta,” USTR’s report noted “This is despite the fact that these terms are the common names for products produced in countries around the world.”

While NMPF appreciates the accurate diagnosis of the EU’s deliberate global strategy, the organization is asking the administration to develop a proactive common food name strategy to counter EU efforts. The government has a broad range of tools at its disposal, including Free Trade Agreements, the upcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, which should be used to establish concrete market access protections with U.S. trading partners around the world.