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U.S. Trade Community Warns Against EU Plan

posted on July 25, 2003

Late this week, a judicial panel transferred jurisdiction of the case to a federal court in Minnesota. That removes the other judges from the litigation, but it's unclear how the transfer will affect the contempt ruling against the Corps.

Elsewhere, Congress this week moved to add Chile and Singapore to the small group of nations enjoying free trade status with the United States. When approved, the deals will mark a victory for the White House, which wants to push for more ambitious free trade agreements throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Not all trade deals run so smooth. For example, the frequent bickering between the U.S. and Europe was rekindled this week over a controversial new plan.


U.S. Trade Community Warns Against EU Plan

At issue is a European Union proposal that would give exclusive naming rights to certain products based on geographic location. The so-called "geographic indicator" provision would, for instance, permit only cheese produced in Parma, Italy, to be called "parmesan cheese," or wine bottled in Burgundy, France, to be called Burgundy wine.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, House Ag Committee Chair: "Some would consider this all to be just baloney. But that, too, is one of the generic terms the E.U. may want to claim for its own exclusive use."

At a hearing this week before the House Agriculture Committee, the Bush administration warned that until it's resolved, the geographic indicator issue likely will hold up all other agricultural trade matters in September's World Trade Organization talks.

The Europeans reportedly have compiled a list of 40 names they want protected, ranging from Balsamic vinegar to Edam cheese. The White House claims the list presents an artificial trade barrier on names that, in the U.S., have a generic meaning.

Jon Dudas, Department of Commerce: "Make no mistake; what the E.U. is asking for is not fair treatment, it's preferential treatment. It's nothing less than the subsidy of European agricultural interests through a 'clawback' of generic terms."

Some lawmakers accused the Europeans of trying to co-opt millions of dollars spent over many years by American companies in turning food items like parmesan cheese into popular generic brands.

They further cite U.S. trademark laws that already protect both domestic and foreign products, while the E.U. does not extend the same protections to U.S. goods, like Florida citrus and Idaho potatoes.


Tags: agriculture European Union news trade