Submission on The EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement Negotiations: Protection of Geographical Indications in New Zealand Discussion Paper

Federated Farmers supports the negotiations underway toward a potential EU-NZ FTA and we understand that measures to establish a more substantive framework for Geographic Indications (GIs) are a necessary but not sufficient component of completing such an agreement.

Despite our enthusiasm for a potential EU-NZ FTA we are concerned about the cost the broad scope of the proposed GI framework may have on the New Zealand agriculture sector, and by extension on the New Zealand economy.

Federated Farmers believes there should be protection for foodstuff GIs where there is potential to mislead consumers in not doing so, as is consistent with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Article 22. Yet, when coupled with the list of over 2,200 proposed names to be protected by the EU (released in late 2018 by MFAT), many of the concepts raised by the discussion paper have the potential to go well beyond this reasonable principal.
The primary sector in New Zealand is under strong pressure to move ‘towards value and away from volume’ in order to address environmental concerns. Notwithstanding the fact that many of the goods the primary sector currently exports large volumes of are also highly valued internationally, there is a substantial risk that an overly draconian GI framework could be used to restrict commonly used generic foodstuff terms and will undermine efforts to focus on ‘value’ exports.

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