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Local Food Standards a Sticking Point in EU-US Free Trade Talks

20 July 2016

GLOBAL - As free trade talks between EU and USA step up in the fourteenth round of negotiations, EU-wide agricultural organisation Copa and Cogeca said EU standards must be recognised in the transatlantic trade talks (known as TTIP).

Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: "With the USA being the first client for our EU agri-food exports worth 19 billion euros, we believe that the free trade talks with the USA could provide an opportunity if there is a level playing field.

"To start with, we want to make sure that the EU’s high quality standards are recognised.

"We also believe that three quarters of possible gains from a potential deal could come from removing red tape and non-tariff barriers to trade. EU dairy producers for example face big obstacles when trying to market Grade A milk products in the US which effectively stop our exports from entering the US. The same situation applies for our fruit and vegetable exports,” Mr Pesonen said.

"More progress is also urgently needed in the talks on getting recognition of the EU system of geographical indications (GIs) which protects our quality produce from imitations. We cannot accept undermining the added value of our products,” he added.

However, agricultural organisations on the US side say removing geographical indicators would be key to a successful TTIP agreement. For example, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says local cheese names like feta and parmesan are generic and American products should be considered equal.

“Names like feta and parmesan belong to everyone, not just a small group of producers in Europe,” added Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA in a statement about the negotiations earlier this year.

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