CHINA? It’s taken the EU 13 years to agree on protections on just 100 food & drink products.

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readNov 7, 2019

Yesterday in Beijing the EU Commission concluded 13 years of negotiations on the ‘protection’ of 100 food and drink names which are exported to China.

The EU Commission hailed this yesterday as a ‘Landmark agreement’.

‘Landmark agreement’? The new deal won’t even start until the end of 2020 and it’s not even a trade deal.

The EU’s non-trade deal with China that the EU hail as a ‘Landmark agreement’.

1. This is not even a mini-trade deal — it does not affect tariffs

2. The deal is about geographical name protection on some agri-food products

3. The EU started discussions back in 2006 and the deal will not even be ratified until end-2020, earliest

4. Of the 100 products listed, 26 are French, 26 are Italian, and 12 are Spanish. Mmmm can you see a pattern emerging

6. And this has taken the EU Commission 13 years and counting…

© EU Commission

In essence, the EU’s “Geographical Indications” scheme is an effort to protect products in the agri-food sector from being counterfeited in other countries.

What does this ‘deal’ do for the UK?

All this proposed EU deal with China will do is to offer some protection for the names of products such as Münchener Bier from Germany, Cognac from France, and balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy.

There are just four British products on the list. When the EU first announced this possible deal back in 2017 when checked the four British products on the list. All were already subject to bilateral agreements between the UK and Chinese governments. On the assumption that the four British products have not changed, this means that the EU has produced no benefit for UK producers in 13 years of trying. Mmmm can you see a pattern?

Meanwhile, the UK government agrees on a beefy deal with China

On 18 October the UK and China agreed on the lifting of sanctions against British beef exports to China.

The British beef industry is set to benefit from an estimated £230 million boost, and the first exports are expected to start being shipped in the next few months.

This follows work by DEFRA and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), in partnership with Quality Meat Scotland. Mmmm wonder if anyone has mentioned this to wee nippy seeing Scotland has a lot of good beef that will find its way to China(QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales HCC) and other industry bodies, as well as FSA and DAERA in Northern Ireland, and other government departments and agencies.

AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said:

“This is a great end to a very successful year for our red meat exports. This new agreement is fantastic news for our beef processors who will now have access to another market outside of the EU.”

The EU Commission’s proud announcement of the ending of negotiations with China on 100 agri-food product name protections almost two-thirds of which involve just France, Italy and Spain will no doubt be a load off the minds of Remainers

True, the proposed deal is not expected to be ratified until the end of 2020 (which almost certainly means 2021) but it’s a start. And let’s face it, it will have taken them 15 years of work by then, so Remainers reading this will no doubt wish to make a diary note for 2021 to offer their congratulations on a job well done.

Beefing up British farming

On a more serious note, the news that British meat will shortly start being sold in China is great news for many British farmers across all corners of the UK.

This news came out two weeks ago, but the fact that it was good news for farmers in a post-Brexit Britain seems to have made it un-newsworthy for the BBC. Hands all readers who heard this bit of good news from not just the BBC but other news outlets? Perhaps it didn’t help that this deal had no EU involvement. I thought readers might like to be informed.

The overall message here is of course that the EU Commission always seems to spend inordinate amounts of time on matters of no real benefit to the UK. Where are their priorities Remainers?

The simple fact is that after more than 60 years the EU has no trade deal with its biggest customer (USA), nor with its third-biggest customer (China). What are the chances of it agreeing on a sensible trade deal with the UK — its second-biggest customer — in a meaningful time-scale?

The other basic fact is that the vast majority of the world’s countries already sell into the EU perfectly successfully, without any trade deal at all.

[ Sources: EU Commission | DEFRA ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.