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Defending quality PDO products of local societies in international trade agreements

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Greek feta production

Stop TTIP CETA TiSA Greece | 17 October 2017

Defending quality PDO products of local societies in international trade agreements

by George Emmanouil

The first International Trade Agreement for the Products Designation of Origin was held in Paris in 1883 and the next one in Madrid in 1891 between 31 countries. The countries with a history in culture such as those of S. Europe, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Kenya, Jamaica, China, Vietnam, participate in international agreements to support the protection of PDOs, while the new American countries and, in general, Anglo-Saxon countries are not involved, due to private trademarks that dominating in those areas. This is the mainly the reason why the US, Canada, Australia reject PDO products in the WTO (World Trade Organization) and in the current negotiations of the international trade agreements CETA, TTIP, etc.

The Stresa, Italy international trade agreement followed in 1951 and the Lisbon one in 1958, as modified in Geneva Act in 2015, by which it is prohibited the circulation of counterfeit products (kind, style)

The European Union has allowed the PDOs protection, by Reg. 2081/1992. In 1999, US and Australia appealed to the World Trade Organization against the EU, mainly claiming that the EU discriminates against other countries’ trademarks / brand names. The EU then and in order to be compatible with the WTO legislation (Articles 3.1, 22, 23, 24, TRIPS) then amended its legislation with Regulation 510 / 2016 and with the Final Reg. 1151/ 2012, prohibiting as such products imitation and allowing equal treatment and registration of PDO products and products of third countries.

Based on 2016 EU statistics data , there have been registered 3.315 agricultural products, out of which 2.000 are wines and 1.315 are food products (229 cheeses, 326 meats, 130 oils, 373 fruits, vegetables and cereals, etc.)

The southern European countries, due to their high biodiversity and historical tradition in the way of production and consumption at local level , they currently possess the most protected PDOs in the EU (i.e. Italy 926, France 740, Spain 353, Greece 270, Portugal 203, Germany 164 , Hungary 83, Bulgaria 65, Romania 63 and followed by the rest of the EU with less than 50 each).

At EU level, 60% of the PDO sales is taking place within the domestic market, 20% is exported to other EU countries and 20% to third countries. The total value of exported EU PDO products to third countries amounts to 12 billion euro, or 15% of its food exports with increasing trends. Countries importing PDO products from the EU are the US (30%), Switzerland, Singapore (starting from 7%), Canada, China, Japan (starting from 6%), and Russia (4%) thus upgrading to an important chapter of the EU’s bilateral trade agreements.

In the PDO / PGI products, it is reflected the comparative advantage of natural biodiversity, the traditional way of production and gastronomic consumption, as well as their high quality and nutritional value that is associated with the organic production of healthy products (due to their natural, chemical, microbiological and organoleptic characteristics) with culture, agrotourism and ecotourism of the local societies of Southern Europe and Greece

The commercialization of PDO products also faces unfair competition within the world market, from degraded quality products, that are either produced from mutated seeds and feed or derived from hormone and chemical additives from international industry.

The 21st century will be a period of conflict between the social alliance of producers and consumers, who demand fair trade conditions and defend the principle of prevention, quality labelling and distinctness of PDO / PGI products and the pursuit of Multinational Companies seeking deregulation markets, speculation and corporate dominance.

PDO products when internationally traded, they are not just commodities but they also incorporate biodiversity, traditional production, know-how and culture of the local communities where they are produced.

That is mainly the reason why we believe that in the EU-South Africa, EU-Singapore and in the CETA EU-Canada trade agreements, only 143 PDO products from the EU’s 1315 food products and only 16 from our 101 PDO food products and basically the incomplete protection of FETA, our most important PDO product, along with the possibility of PDO products’ imitation, are a significant setback of European conquests in international trade agreements of the post-war period.

Within the next 3 years EU negotiations with other countries will be pursued, within the joint "regulatory co-operation" committees and in order to establish a common legislative framework on quality standards and health measures for plant and animal production.

The European and Greek movement should be vigilant in order to be able to prevent regulations that will be attempted regarding the liberalization of GMOs imports, hormonized and chemical additives into the food industry of the European area and to promote sustainable regional development policies, through labelling and collective promotion of local quality products with cooperative group of producers, inter-professional organizations, agri-food partnerships and their cooperation with Universities and Local Government.

The Greek Government should take advantage of Article 4 of the EU Treaty of Lisbon, which allows for National Parliaments the competency to renegotiate, towards the obsolete and complete registration of PDO Feta and all quality and food products,, to support the Walloon Region in its appeal to the European Court of Justice against ISDS company courts and to take a decision towards defending all international trade agreements, the precautionary principle, the communitarian acquis on public health, the environment Law, social rights and sustainable development of local communities.

 source: Stop TTIP CETA TiSA Greece