WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte issued the following statement in response to the European Union’s (EU) recent WTO proposal:
“We recently received a summary of the EU’s WTO proposal and while we will review the entire package, I was immediately discouraged by their demand for an international geographical indications register. Geographical indications are a means by which producers of a product, including an agricultural product, can identify such a product as originating from a particular region and a product’s quality or characteristic is attributed to that region, such as Idaho potatoes, Virginia ham, Florida oranges, or Roquefort cheese. Currently, the United States provides protections through our trademark system, a rules-based method that is open and includes fair treatment and enforcement mechanisms. This system works and allows for other countries to register their products in the U.S. and protects those products from infringement.
The EU is seeking to re-negotiate an already agreed upon compromise to better favor its own interests to the detriment of U.S. manufacturers and consumers as well as producers and manufacturers in many other nations.. The EU is demanding a system that lists names of products that cannot be used by outsiders—as opposed to a system of rules that protect producers and manufacturers of such products.
The EU expects the U.S. and its trading partners to honor geographical indications from countries within the EU even though they do not honor our geographical indications in their countries. Not a single U.S. product is recognized as a geographical indication in the EU. This is hypocritical and we will not allow the EU to continue its attempts to restrict the world’s food supply.”