The U.S. dairy industry applauded a commitment to stronger protections for common food names resulting from just-concluded trade talks with China.

The favorable outcome of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings should facilitate export of products like feta and parmesan cheese to China, which is a particularly large and fast-growing market for U.S. dairy products.

“We are extremely pleased that the United States and China have agreed to strong protections for products using these well-established cheese names as we seek to expand exports to this key market,” said Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

“We especially appreciate U.S. negotiators’ recognition of the importance of common name preservation to U.S. exports and the heightened focus that the Obama administration has given to a key dairy industry priority,” added Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

“The outcome of the JCCT meetings is a great example of the progress that can result from frank and productive collaboration between two trading partners,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.

The issue of common food names and their relationship to geographical indications (GIs) has generated considerable discussion this year due to European Union efforts to impose bans on the use of feta, parmesan, asiago, muenster and other common cheese names in international trade unless the products are manufactured in Europe.

The EU is using talks like those under way for a Trans-Atlantic free trade agreement to impose these bans. In addition, it is seeking GI-specific agreements with individual countries, including China. The U.S. dairy industry has strongly opposed EU efforts to impose these trade barriers as a way to limit global competition. 

The JCCT result lays out common principles for how geographical indications should be handled, as well as a commitment to future dialogue on GIs between the two countries. The JCCT is a forum for addressing trade issues between the United States and China.

For more information, read “U.S. Fact Sheet: 25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.”