Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why Parma Ham Stands In Way Of Trade Talks

(Michael Geist — Toronto Star)

Canada is currently negotiating two major international trade agreements whose success may ultimately depend on the level of protection provided to Parma ham. While it may seem hard to believe, the Canada – European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are both facing increasing opposition based on European demands to expand protection for “geographical indications.”

Geographical indications (GI) are signs used on goods - frequently food, wine, or spirits - that have a specific geographical origin and are said to possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin.

Given the quality associated with the product, proponents of GI protection argue that it is needed to avoid consumer confusion as well as to protect legitimate producers.

Europe has the most extensive geographical indication protections in the world. These include Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which covers agricultural products produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognized know-how; Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), which covers agricultural products linked to the geographical area; and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), which highlights traditional character, either in the composition or means of production.

The net effect of the European system is that hundreds of items enjoy special legal protection. In fact, the system is so extensive that the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters have expressed concern that CETA could lead to new restrictions on the use of words such as “pizza” or “feta.”
Read more here.