BRUSSELS/BEIJING: The EU and China struck a deal on Tuesday to protect the geographic origins of 200 regional products like Roquefort cheese or Pu’er tea.
The accord makes good on promises made at the EU-China summit in April, and was finalized during a visit to China by French President Emmanuel Macron and European officials.
The food label deal comes as both sides have struggled for years to make way on a long delayed EU-China investment deal with Brussels extremely concerned about the lack of market access in China for foreign companies and the prevalence of state subsidies.
EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan described the deal as a “win for both parties” that would strengthen trade ties and a protect farmers and consumers.
“Consumers are willing to pay a higher price, trusting the origin and authenticity of these products, while further rewarding farmers,” he said.
China is the EU’s second-largest market for agricultural exports, representing €12.8 billion ($14.2 billion) between September 2018 and August 2019.
At the moment, goods now with protected “geographical indicators” represent 9 percent of this total.
The deal will go into effect before the end of next year, after it has been ratified by EU national leaders and members in the European Parliament.
Four years later the list will be expanded to cover another 175 products from each side.
China, France deals
China and France signed contracts totaling $15 billion during a visit by President Emmanuel Macron, a Chinese government official said at a news briefing on Wednesday.
Deals were struck in the fields of aeronautics, energy and agriculture, including approval for 20 French companies to export poultry and beef to China.
They also agreed to expand a protocol for poultry exports reached earlier this year to include ducks and geese, according to a statement from the French president’s office.
Energy deals included a memorandum of understanding between Beijing Gas Group and French utility Engie to collaborate on a liquefied natural gas terminal and storage in the northern city of Tianjin.
An executive with Beijing Gas Group told Reuters that the cooperation with Engie will also include the French firm supplying membrane technology, used for gas leak prevention, in the massive gas storage projects that China is embarking on.
Among other deals, French company Total will set up a joint venture with China’s Shenergy Group to distribute LNG by truck in the Yangtze River Delta.
The two countries also agreed to reach an agreement by the end of January 2020 on the cost and location of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to be built by Orano, formerly known as Areva.
Previous plans to build the plant in Lianyungang in eastern China’s Jiangsu province were canceled after protests.