Common Names group asks Trump to act on ‘GI abuses’
The Consortium for Common Food Names, a group that has strong backing from the U.S. dairy industry, said today that it appreciates the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative including the issue of geographical indicators (GIs) in its Friday report on intellectual property problems, but that the Trump administration needs to act on its funding.
“We appreciate the excellent work that has gone into this report calling out the EU on its abusive GI practices, and the harm done to U.S. producers, but it is disheartening to see these abuses being carried out at this very moment with some of the most important U.S. trading partners,” said CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda. “It’s time for the U.S. to put more muscle behind these words. We need countries to begin listening, and to defend names against what is an aggressive grab for market access by the EU.”
CCFN Chairman Errico Auricchio, president of BelGioioso Cheese in Green Bay, Wis., noted, for example, that Mexico is signaling that it could impose new restrictions on the use of common cheese names such as “parmesan,” “munster” and “feta” under its new trade agreement with the European Union.
“Companies like BelGioioso have done much of the groundwork developing consumer love and trust for our cheeses in Mexico and other places. How can we stand by and allow the EU to steal the generic names of our products and push us out? The answer is: We cannot,” Auricchio said.
“In recent months, the line on respecting existing rights and market access agreements has been crossed by Mexico, Canada and others, which is a failure not just in terms of their commitments to the U.S. but in their commitment to their own consumers, who will now have less choice and will be served by a less competitive marketplace,” Castaneda said. “The U.S. must make it clear to countries that violate trade agreements that there are consequences to their actions – particularly during the current NAFTA negotiations.”