US lobbying for UK to drop protected food/drink names to provide greater freedom for US imports post-Brexit


By Rachel Pearse

For non-EU countries (such as the US), the chance to create and develop new trade deals with the UK post-Brexit is an attractive opportunity. However, having read that the US is lobbying for the UK to drop food name protection conferred by geographical indications, designation of origin and traditional speciality guaranteed, one feels very strongly that we should be supporting our national producers by continuing these food and drink name protections for future generations.

The benefits to be gained by opening the markets to allow other countries to import cheap, competing products is overstated. Variety and reduced cost for the consumer comes at too high a price for British industry. It is after all industries such as Cornish clotted cream, the Cornish pasty, Melton Mowbray pies, Stilton blue cheese and Cumberland sausage that set our food and drink trade apart from other countries internationally. If we "sell out" our food and drink industry now, we do so at our peril and make ourselves vulnerable to fluctuations in import prices in the future.

The EU Commission has now published its Draft Withdrawal Agreement (as of 28th February 2018). The Draft Withdrawal Agreement proposes that those industries protected by a geographical indication, designation of origin, or traditional speciality guaranteed, or a traditional term shall, from the end of the transition period, be entitled to use a right in the UK (granted under UK law), which provides for at least the same level of protection as that provided by EU law.

There is, at present, a big question mark over whether the UK will follow the EU Commission's proposals. It is hugely important for our food and drink industry that food name protections are maintained, and that reciprocal protection is provided in the EU. Let's hope that the UK follows the EU Commission's proposals, and agrees to the terms as set out in the Draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Cornish pasties and Scotch whisky are among the products that could carry a “Made in America” tag after Brexit. US lobbyists are calling for the UK to drop geographical name protections after Brexit to allow supermarkets to import American copies. Under EU law, products including Melton Mowbray pork pies, Parmesan cheese, and Champagne have protected geographical status and cannot be made anywhere else.
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