In the first quarter after the turn of the year, trade between China and Europe skyrocketed in tea (up 54%), beer (21%), apples (69%) and cheese (56%). Over 60 French GIs (geographical indications) are under protection in China. The numbers, evidently profited from the execution of a China-EU GI agreement and another one specifically between China and France, enhance the two countries' faith to further cooperation in GI trade.
France is a country China has the most extensive GI cooperation program with and gives protection to the largest number of GIs. Quality and exotic GI products from the two countries could enter into each other's households in a more secure and reliable way. The unique GI feast, where "Chinese flavor" meets "French flavor", provides more options for both people to pursue a better life and injects confidence in the mutual economic growth against the COVID-19 pandemic.
High-level management builds cooperation
China has been working attentively to link its GI system seamlessly with the international norms. For instance, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued the Measures for the Protection of Foreign GI Products to further facilitate filing by foreign users. In the 14th Five-Year National Plan for GI Protection and Use released in 2021, the scope of mutual recognition and protection of GIs is planned to be further advanced, the breadth and depth of international exchanges and cooperation on GI protection be expanded and the competitiveness of Chinese GIs in the international market be enhanced by 2025.
France also invested tremendous efforts on shaping a GI administration system. "France has been playing a crucial role in the development of GIs," said Pascal Faure, Head of the National Intellectual Property Institute (INPI) of France, noting that the "appellation of origin" concept was born in France, and would later be adopted by the EU by passing a regulation on the protection of GIs and appellations of origin agricultural product in 1992. In addition, in order to broaden the scope of protection, France established a local framework to protect industrial and handicraft GIs in 2014. As of the beginning of this April, France was in possession of about 464 GI products.
Benefiting from the unremitting efforts on quality management from both sides, the two countries are converging in terms of GI. A signed-off GI agreement even unlocks a new mode of bilateral cooperation. "The signing of this agreement provides a strong support for ample exchanges on GI legislations and practice, which helps communication in the fields of agriculture and food," said Marie Guittard, Director of the Institut National de L'origine Et de La Qualité (INAO). As of date, over 60 French GI products are under protection in China with the help of bilateral cooperation projects, China-EU pilot program of mutual recognition and protection of "10+10" GIs and the China-EU GI Agreement.
High-quality products enter households
Brand promotion is an important way to realize GIs' commercial value. In recent years, GI practitioners from China and France have shared their experiences and fruits in cultivating regional brands and improving product qualities.
The Huiliu Tea company in China's Anhui province has been approved to use the GI special mark of Lu'an melon seed tea. "In order to build brands, expand market and develop tea industry, our company has invited experts to formulate plans and marketing strategies, increase capital investment and design unified brand logos, advertising slogans and storefronts, which helps to raise our core competitiveness," the company's chairman Zeng Shengchun introduced his experience in brand cultivation and market expansion.
"After obtaining GI protection, the Bayonne ham industry has received good economic and social benefits, helping to revive the rural economy," a principal of the Consortium du Jambon de Bayonne of France said. "To drive the economic development, ecological farming has been developed in Bayonne by formulating product rules, selecting local feeds and establishing a system that can trace the whole production cycle. As of date, there are about 800 dedicated pig farmers in this area, producing 1.5 million pigs and 1 million hams each year, accounting for 20% of the total ham production in France."
In the first quarter after the turn of the year, China's imports and exports with the EU reached 1.31 trillion yuan - an increase of 10.2%- over 100 billion yuan of which was contributed by the trade with France. In 2021, over $80 billion goods and services were traded between the countries with agricultural products Fabriqué en France being a sure-fire big winner, scoring a whopping 40% revenue hike in export to China, and France reclaimed the title of No.1 wine supplying country for China. With the strong wind of GI development followed, the cooperative ship between China and France will sail into a wider waterway.