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Irish whiskey to benefit from EU-China trade deal

Irish whiskey has been registered as a geographical indication (GI) in China after the signing of a new EU-China trade agreement.

Irish whiskey’s GI status will now be protected in China following the signing of an EU-China trade deal

The agreement, which will also see Irish cream liqueurs protected, was finalised in Beijing yesterday (5 November) and has been signed today by EU commissioner Phil Hogan.

Whiskey distilled and matured in Ireland can now be labelled and sold in China as Irish whiskey.

Trade group the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has welcomed the new agreement, which will allow the category to “crack down on fake competitors”.

“Irish whiskey sales in China have historically been low, but the category recorded 50% growth in 2018,” said William Lavelle, head of the IWA.

“Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for authenticity. This agreement protects and promotes authenticity and will grow sales.

“The protection provided in this agreement will further give Irish whiskey producers the confidence to invest in increased sales and marketing in China, knowing that there is legal remedy to crack down on fake competitors.”

Drinks Ireland and the IWA, along with trade body Spirits Europe, had been actively urging for finalisation of the EU-China deal.

Lavelle added: “We wish to congratulate and thank commissioner Phil Hogan and all his team in the EU Commission for securing this agreement.

“As commissioner Hogan prepares to leave the agriculture portfolio, we want to acknowledge his remarkable achievement over the past five years in opening up new market opportunities for European food and drink and securing increased GI protection globally for EU categories including spirits.

“We wish commissioner Hogan all the very best in his upcoming new role as EU Trade commissioner and we fully support his stated approach to address international trade disputes.”

According to trade association Drinks Ireland | Spirits, the GI for Irish cream liqueurs “may help draw additional consumers, increasing demand and exports”.

“We welcome news today that the GI for Irish cream liqueur is to be recognised and protected in China,” said Vincent McGovern, head of Drinks Ireland | Spirits.

“China is one of the largest consumer markets and a growing target for high-quality spirits. We anticipate that the Chinese consumer will continue to respond positively to the provenance and heritage that is at the heart of the many successful brands created by the Irish cream liqueur sector.”

In July last year, Irish whiskey secured protection in Japan after the signing of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

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