SOURCE / ECONOMY
China-EU agreement on geographical indications injects new momentum to bilateral trade
Published: Mar 01, 2021 04:55 PM
Farmer Chen Zhaocai checks the newly-picked tea leaves in Fangting Village of Anxi County, southeast China's Fujian Province, Oct. 8, 2017. Anxi County saw the harvest season for Tieguanyin autumn tea, a type of oolong tea. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiuqiang)

Farmer Chen Zhaocai checks the newly-picked tea leaves in Fangting Village of Anxi County, southeast China's Fujian Province, Oct. 8, 2017. Anxi County saw the harvest season for Tieguanyin autumn tea, a type of oolong tea. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiuqiang)



China-EU landmark geographical indications (GIs) agreement took effect on Monday, protecting the first batch of 100 European GIs in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU against usurpation and imitation, which observers said reflect increased mutual trust between two major economies and will steadily boost bilateral trade.

According to the agreement, the Chinese GI products protected in the EU include Pixian Dou Ban (Pixian bean paste), Anxi Tie Guan Yin (Anxi oolong tea) and Wu Liang Ye (Wuliangye liquor), while the EU list protected in China includes Cava (a wine from Spain), Champagne (a wine from France) and Munchener Bier (a beer from Germany).

For companies whose products are included in the GI list, the agreement will save them significant costs as they don't have to go to the EU to apply for protection, and GI products are not only protected by laws but also bilateral mechanism under the GI agreement, domestic news portal yicai.com reported, citing data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Signed on September 14, 2020, the China-EU GI agreement is the first comprehensive and high-level bilateral treaty China signed with a foreign country. Apart from the GIs already listed, the agreement will continue to expand, in the upcoming four years, to cover additional 175 GI names from both sides.

"In addition, this is also the first such agreement the EU signed with a major economy, reflecting the inner momentum of China-EU economic and trade cooperation, as the US and the EU have failed to reach such an agreement," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

Through intellectual property protection, the agreement will also help the entry of medium and high-end agricultural products in the Chinese market, which is in line with China's consumption upgrade, Cui said.

In 2020, China surpassed the US to become the EU's top trading partner, with the bloc's imports from China grew by 5.6 percent year-on-year last year to 383.5 billion euros ($465 billion) and exports grew by 2.2 percent to 202.5 billion euros, according to the EU's statistical service Eurostat.

Bilateral trade between China and the EU is expected to maintain steady growth in 2021 but whether China will retain the EU's largest trading partner remains to be seen, Cui said. "If the resilience of China-EU trade relationship is well maintained in the key year of 2021, it's projected that China will remain a main trading partner of the EU for years," he said.

Bai Ming, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times that there is huge potential within China-EU trade, if the two could play the complementarities to the most and properly deal with their differences.

China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said at a press briefing on February 24 that China and the EU are working on the text and translation of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), and will strive to sign the agreement as early as possible.


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