Japan unveils final list of GI for foods in EU trade agreement

TOKYO, Dec. 16 — The agriculture ministry has unveiled a final list of food names that will be protected under geographical indications (GI) in the recently agreed trade deal between Japan and the EU.

The list aims to help farmers from both Japan and the EU to exclusively market their own products, but which the United States may call protectionism.

GI is a rule that requires a product to come from a particular geographical area, and it must meet various quality criteria in order to be called by its name.

Being granted GI status, it allows for regional producers to monopolize the use of famous area names, while other producers have to alter the names of their products.

The list includes 71 European food names such as those referring to the cheeses as “Camembert de Normandie” and “Gorgonzola”.

That means there would be no more “Hokkaido-made Gorgonzora” or “Gorgonzora-style blue cheese”, even if it is an identical looking and tasting product.

At the same time, the ministry decided to allow the use of generic names such as mozzarella, camembert and parmesan to products made by non-EU producers and widely used in Japan.

This is to avoid negatively affecting domestic producers, consumers and trading partners like the United States.

The list also includes 48 Japanese food names to be protected in the EU markets.

Following the July agreement between the two, the Japanese agriculture ministry preceded the GI review process, taking public comments on the proposed names and terms.

During the process, the ministry agreed to grant a higher level of GI protection to Italian-made “Parmigiano-Reggiano”.

However, as U.S.-made and Japanese local made grated cheeses are well-known as “parmesan cheese” in Japan, the ministry decided to treat it as a generic name.

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