When it comes to non-tariff barriers for SMEs exporting to European counties, the issue of Geographical Indications (GIs), or Common Names of American cheese and other food producers is especially restrictive.
The EU in an effort to protect selective regions for food and drink producers such as parmesan cheese, chateau wines and bologna meats, have prevented the import by American producers attempting to use these common names.
According to a recent US Dairy Export Council document, “The United States’ trade deficit with the European Union was a remarkable $2.37 billion in 2022- even though the United States is itself is a major dairy exporter.”
Not only does the EU restrict the use of these names for American producers but has inserted language in its FTAs with many other countries, such as Canada, Japan, Ecuador and others preventing them from importing American foods using these common names.
For example, Canada in formalizing its FTA with the EU (CETA), continues to prevent American producers of feta cheese and other “protected” European food product names being imported to Canada from the US.
“Fortunately, with the new USMCA trade agreement, the US through the office of the USTR, has persuaded Mexico to commit to protecting a list of common cheese terms and prior users of generic names,” said Tony Rice, Trade Policy Director of the National Milk Producers Federation.
“We do recognize legitimate, compound geographical indications – like Mozzarella di Bufala Compana – but not monopolization of the common term mozzarella,” he continued. But most other restrictions are not recognized by the US.
The result is not only an EU barrier to trade, but a worldwide barrier confronting US cheese and other food producers.
This article in cooperation with Tony Rice, Trade Policy Director, National Milk Producers Federation and the Consortium for Common Names