Chunks of various cheese types.
April 27, 2016

Dairy Groups Pleased with Obama Trade Report

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Both the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation welcomed the Obama Administration’s Special 301 Report issued annually and released this week that recognized the important role generic trade names can play in global trade.

Termed ‘geographical indicators,’ use of these generic trade names have been used as trademarks that prevent their use by anyone other than countries of supposed origin. “Decades after parmesan, feta and asiago became household favorites in the United States, Europe now argues that these names, and others, can only appear on cheeses produced in Italy and Greece,” says a USDEC/NMPF press release. If allowed, such use would block U.S. sales to Europe and other country.

The U.S. Trade Representative, in its Special 301 Report, recognized the importance of the issue: “In the case of cheese, for example, the EU exports nearly $1 billion of cheese to the United States each year; the United States exports only about $6 million to the EU. Conversely, EU agricultural producers exporting to the United States are doing quite well, benefiting considerably from the scope of trademark protection provided in the United States, and notably in the absence of an EU-style GI system. Despite these troubling aspects of its GI system, the EU continues to seek to expand its system within its territory and beyond.”

Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, says, “U.S. dairy exporters believe it is critical for USTR to maintain a strong focus on the importance of firmly rejecting barriers to U.S. products driven by our competitors’ desires to use GIs to monopolize the use of common food names around the world. This year’s Special 301 Report rightfully spotlights some of the progress being made in addressing this challenge.”

Adds Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation:  “Our dairy industry has been gearing up to compete globally and open markets to our products. It’s vitally important that U.S. trade policy reject the EU’s attempts to slam doors shut in areas in which we are increasingly competing head to head against their producers.”