EU could impose GIs on spirits sold in Australia

14th August, 2019 by Owen Bellwood

The European Union is urging Australia to recognise the geographical indication statuses of products such as Irish whiskey and Cognac as part of on-going free trade negotiations.

Australia and the EU are currently negotiating a free trade deal

Talks between Australia and the European Union (EU) to agree on an FTA between the two countries began last year. As part of the proposed deal, the EU is hoping geographical indications (GI) on products such as Irish whiskey and Cognac will be enforced in Australia.

According to EU law, products including Scotch whisky, genever and brandy de Jerez are protected and must be produced according to a particular set of rules in order to carry the name.

The Australian government’s department of foreign affairs and trade has published a list of 408 products that currently have a protected status in Europe, including Somerset Cider Brandy, Swedish vodka, brandy de Jerez, Cognac and grappa. EU wine GIs are already protected in Australia.

Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment, Simon Birmingham, this week opened a public consultation on the list of GI products.

He said: “We want to hear directly from Australian farmers and businesses so that we can fully represent them in our continuing negotiations with the EU.

“There are enormous opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses if we can improve their access to markets across the EU. The EU boasts more than 500 million consumers and, even with existing trade restrictions, it is already Australia’s third largest export market.

“Whilst we understand the importance the EU places on geographical indications, our priority is ensuring our farmers and businesses can get better market access and be more competitive in the EU.”

He added that the consultation process will allow the negotiators to “better understand the views of Australian industry”.

The final round of negotiations for the FTA will take place in October.

As a bloc, the EU is currently Australia’s second largest trading partner, after China, and its third largest export destination. Last year, Australia and the EU had two-way trade of goods and services worth AU$109 billion (US$73bn).

According to the EU, if a free trade agreement were signed trade in goods between Australia and the EU could increase by as much as 37%. The services trade, meanwhile, could increase by 8%.

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