Gorgonzola, feta, Prosciutto di Parma and Scotch Beef could soon be banned from use by Australian businesses, with the European Union seeking to restrict the use of certain product names as part of negotiations for a free trade agreement.
On Tuesday (13 August), Australia’s trade minister, Simon Birmingham, released a list of 172 product names based on geographical indications (GI) that the EU wants Australian businesses and producers to stop using on locally made food items.
Cheeses, confectioneries, olive oils, meats, butters and condiments are among those items on the list. Wines are not included, as protections already exist under Australia’s existing wine agreement with the EU.
If implemented, the names could only be used where the product is made and imported from its country of origin.
Those countries petitioning for the largest number of restrictions include France, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Spain. Six products on the list come from the UK, despite its planned withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) this year.
In unveiling the list of names for public consultation, Mr Birmingham said Australian businesses will have three months to express their views on the protected terms.
“We want to hear directly from Australian farmers and businesses so that we can fully represent them in our continuing negotiations with the EU,” he said.
“There are enormous opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses if we can improve their access to markets across the EU. The EU boasts more than 500 million consumers and, even with existing trade restrictions, it is already Australia’s third largest export market.”
Mr Birmingham continued: “While we understand the importance the EU places on geographical indications, our priority is ensuring our farmers and businesses can get better market access and be more competitive in the EU.”
The minister said that the consultations will aid its pushback on certain terms not being acceptable for Australian industry.
“Australians can be confident that we will drive a very hard bargain — as we always do — to achieve an overall agreement that delivers more opportunity for Australian farmers and businesses,” he said.
“Ultimately, we will only do this deal if overall it is in Australia’s interests to do so.”
The full list of geographical indications up for consideration is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website.
Australian businesses are able to submit their feedback on the proposal by 13 November 2019.
DFAT advised that any objections should be made on “at least one” of these grounds:
- the name is used in Australia as the common name for the relevant good
- the name is used in Australia as the name of a plant variety or an animal breed
- the name is identical to, or likely to cause confusion with, a trademark or GI that is registered or the subject of a pending application in Australia
- the name is identical to, or likely to cause confusion with, an unregistered trademark or GI that has acquired rights through use in Australia
- the name contains or consists of scandalous matter
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.