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EU-China Seminar on GI Protection

Beijing, China

EU-China Seminar on GI Protection

A Geographical Indication (shortly, GI) is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country), where the use of a GI official logo certifies and ensure consumers that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to certain (traditional) methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, that is attributable essentially to that geographical origin.

Therefore, within the repertoire of IPRs, “GI” plays the role to explain why - even if two goods fall within the same category and are prepared using the same ingredients, raw materials or process - due to a different geographical origin they maintain different qualities, characteristics and reputation.

As such, GI protection may be shared by all producers in the defined area that comply with recognized standards.

Behind GI protection policy there is strong economic interest, in supporting the economy or the rural development of a certain territory: protected GIs signal to consumers that the marketed products have particular characteristics due to their geographical origin, and they may therefore command a premium price in the market.

In China, for instance, since the Pinggu Peach was registered as a GI, accompanied by promotional campaigns, the market value of the fruit nearly tripled, while for Zhangqui Scallions prices nearly doubled between 2000 and 2006.

The protection of GIs in China is a priority for the Chinese government and for EU and this has been highlighted also in the course of the recent meetings of the IP Working Group and Dialogue in Beijing, while controls over the use of registered GIs and official logos are therefore essential to ensure public trust on GI official logos and enhance consumers’ protection.

AQSIQ and IP Key partnered in the organization of a two days seminar on “GI post-registration mechanisms”, aimed at facilitating exchanges between EU and Chinese experts on supervision, controls and enforcement of GIs.

The seminar took place in Beijing on December 11 and 12, with more than 80 AQSIQ officers from Beijing and neighbouring provinces.

Topics of presentation and discussion at the seminar covered:

  1. GIs post registration control mechanisms, including:

- supervision and controls over the compliance (by GIs producers/users’ associations and by administrative authorities) to the rules that certificate the origin of raw materials, manufacturing methods, quality or other specific characteristics of the products, as described in the regulation governing the use of the relevant GI (technical files);

- rights and obligations entailed in the use of the GI, the users’ liability for their breach of the regulations/technical files;

- role of certification bodies;

- how to ensure an independent, transparent, predictable and efficient control system;

- role of producers’ organizations in the day-by-day management of the GI system and in the compliance controls.

  1. Relevant regulations concerning the approval and revocation of GIs, including;

-          central and local competencies and procedures;

-          requirements for GI regulations;

-          public authorities involved.

  1. The link between “GIs’ post registration mechanisms” and the “protection of consumers’ health/safety”: consumers should be able to rely on the GI official logo as a warranty for the origin and quality of the product (presentation of EU case studies and best practices).
  1. How the Chinese GIs can better access international markets.

Key speakers:

·         Ms Maria Chiara Ferarrese, CSQA Certificazioni Srl – Certification Body

·         Mr Simone Calzi, Consortium of Parma Ham

·         Mr Lionel Lalagüe, BNIC Cognac

·         Ms Tatiana Metais, INAO – French Government Agency

·         Mr Pierre-Emmanuel Brotelande, Consortium of Jambon de Bayonne

·         Ms Pei Xiaoying, DDG AQSIQ

·         Prof. Liu Guojie, China Agriculture University

·         Mr Feng Liming, Camus France

·         Mr Zhong Peijing, AQSIQ Guangdong

Opening/Closing remarks:

·         Mr Benoît Lory, EU Delegation to China and Mongolia

·         Ms Pei Xiaoying, AQSIQ

·         Mr Wu Jinsheng, AQSIQ

Meeting moderation:

·         Mr Yao Zehua, AQSIQ

·         Mr Davide Follador, IP Key

EU speakers explained that in the EU products with PDOs, PGIs and TSGs must comply with registered specifications and the applicant (consortium or other entity entitled to administer the GI) must identify one or more independent bodies, which will conduct controls to ensure that the specifications are met and maintained.

GI certification bodies are also required to comply with/need to be accredited in accordance with EU standards.

Likewise, the EU legal framework provides for general rules on State control and supervision, while leaving some margin of discretion on the actual supervising system to be enacted by Member States. At the seminar in Beijing, the French and Italian systems were respectively introduced.

Representatives from the food and wine GI industry then explained the role played by associations of producers in promoting the GI products as well as in preventing abuses, which have been identified in the approval process in as much as in post-registration mechanisms.

AQSIQ speakers brought special contribution to the enforcement side of the agenda, presenting recent cases of successful actions conducted by the administration in Guangdong, which has issued specific provincial regulations on this purpose.

AQSIQ is also going to launch in the future a special web platform, which will allow tracing the origin of GGI products through using dedicated QR codes.

The seminar also allowed participants to learn more about the promotion policy adopted by Chinese GI products on overseas markets.

AQSIQ is therefore keen on promoting a modern and efficient GI implementation system, in line with the policy of the CCP on this topic.

Both EU and Chinese experts agreed that the protection of Geographical Indications needs to be consolidated in China and it is in the interest of both parties to further discuss common standards in post registration controls and verification mechanisms, as well as relevant enforcement measures.

IP Key is particularly grateful to AQSIQ for the logistic support and for the cooperation in the organization of the seminar, which brought insightful contribution from the Chinese and European speakers.

Agenda and presentations are available for download.

For more information on this activity, please contact Davide Follador davide.follador@ipkey.org or for general information on IP Key please contact Jaspal Channa jaspal.channa@ipkey.org.

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