The agreement, under negotiation for a number of years, was finalised at a meeting in Beijing and signed yesterday by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.
The agreement ensures protection for Irish Whiskey – Ireland’s leading GI category – and Irish Cream Liqueurs in China for the first time.
From now on only Irish whiskey distilled and matured on the island of Ireland and Irish Cream Liqueur made on the island of Ireland in accordance with certain production standards can be labelled and sold in China as Irish whiskey or Irish Cream Liqueur.
It also provides a legal recourse to take action against fake Irish whiskey or fake Irish Cream on sale in China.
“Irish whiskey sales in China have historically been low but the category recorded 50% growth in 2018,” pointed out William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association at Drinks Ireland, “Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for authenticity. This agreement protects and promotes authenticity and will grow sales.
“The protection provided in this agreement will further give Irish whiskey producers the confidence to invest in increased sales and marketing in China, knowing that there is legal remedy to crack down on fake competitors.”
Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association, in conjunction with spiritsEurope, the representative federation for the EU spirits industry, had been actively lobbying for finalisation of this agreement in order to better service one of the largest consumer markets on the planet.
“We wish to congratulate and thank Commissioner Phil Hogan and all his team in the EU Commission for securing this agreement,” continued William Lavelle, “As Commissioner Hogan prepares to leave the agriculture portfolio we want to acknowledge his remarkable achievement over the past five years in opening-up new market opportunities for European food and drink and securing increased GI protection globally for EU categories including spirits.”
According to the European Commission, the Chinese market is a high-growth potential market for European food and drinks, comprising a growing middle class with a taste for iconic, high-quality and genuine European products.
The EU and China concluded negotiations on a bilateral agreement to protect 100 European GIs in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU against imitations and usurpation.