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Japan Seeks Comments On Proposed GIs For Which EU Is Seeking Protection In Trade Pact

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) earlier this month published a list of 71 proposed geographical indications (GIs), including numerous cheese products, for which the EU is seeking GI protection in Japan, according to a report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The announcement by MAFF follows the announcement earlier this month of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Japan. That agreement also improves market access for EU products in Japan.

If any of the GI proposals are ultimately approved, Japan does not intend to enforce the GIs until after the Japan-EU EPA enters into force, FAS said.

Nevertheless, interested US parties are encouraged to share their comments or concerns with the MAFF during this review period to ensure their comments are given proper consideration, FAS said.
Comments on MAFF’s 71 agricultural product proposals must be submitted in Japanese by October 9, 2017 (after a 90-day review period).

Japan’s National Tax Agency (NTA) followed MAFF’s release with a list of another 139 EU-proposed GIs for wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages. Comments on the NTA’s proposals must be submitted in Japanese by October 12, 2017.

Cheese products on MAFF’s list, according to FAS, include Feta from Greece; Asiago, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Toscano, Provolone Valpadana and Taleggio from Italy; Danablu from Denmark; Brie de Meaux, Camembert de Normandie, Comte, Emmental de Savoie, Reblochon/Reblochon de Savoie, and Roquefort from France; Edam Holland and Gouda Holland from the Netherlands; Queijo S. Jorge from Portugal; Idiazabal, Mahon-Menorca, and Queso Manchego from Spain; and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar cheese and White Stilton/Blue Stilton from the United Kingdom.

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) said it is working to ensure that generic names for certain cheeses, meats, wines and other foods can remain in use in Japan by filing objections to inclusion of such terms on the proposed list of protected GIs in the Japan-EU EPA.

CCFN commended Japan for publishing the list for comment, a constructive protocol that the EU has not always employed in previous trade negotiations, according to CCFN.

“This transparency and invitation for dialogue on the proposed GI list is a very positive step,” said Shawna Morris, CCFN senior director. “CCFN has no objection to the protection of legitimate GIs — usually compound names that designate a specific geographic location, but we will continue to object whenever the EU falsely claims such generic single names as ‘Feta’ cheese and ‘prosecco’ wine, for example.”

CCFN called on producers and organizations around the world to “look carefully” at Japan’s list of proposed GIs and “send objections if they find a name to be generic, and the

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