Recently, the First Global Geographical Indications Products Expo and Forum on China-EU Agreement on Geographical Indications, with the theme "Strengthen the protection of geographical indications, promote high-quality industrial development", was wrapped up in Luzhou City, Sichuan Province. This event attracted over 600 geographical indication (GI) enterprises from more than 20 countries and regions, showcased more than 1,000 GI products, facilitated investment cooperation in 12 GI products and the signing of over 200 bulk orders, grossed over 23 million yuan.
International GI cooperation has been moving further down the road, making a positive impact on the development of the GI industry from home and abroad, said experts at the meeting. The Expo marks a new start for strengthening Sino-foreign GI protection and cooperation, and relevant sides should promote more Chinese products to "go out" and more foreign products to "come in" through in-depth exchanges and close cooperation, so as to achieve a win-win result and meet the people's ever-growing material and cultural needs.
Bearing rich fruits on fertile land
As the first Expo of its kind that came after the China-EU Agreement on Geographical Indications entered into force, the Expo with a large scale showcased a variety of GI products from a vast number of areas, creating a superb opportunity for visitors to taste global GI products and learn about world GI culture.
"GI products inherit the fine tradition of a country and carry the natural creation of specific regions," said Zhang Zhicheng, Director General of the Intellectual Property Protection Department, China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA). In recent years, CNIPA has attached great importance to the GI work, steadily pushed forward the unification of institutional construction, special marks, protection and supervision, and foreign cooperation, and kept improving its capability and level of GI governance, according to Zhang.
With the launch of a series of practical initiatives, the scale of China's GI industry has expanded constantly, institutional functions have been effectively unleashed, and the role in supporting and serving the development of the real economy has become increasingly prominent. In the year to late June 2022, China had approved a total of 2,493 GI products, certified 6,927 GIs to be registered as collective and certification marks, and authorized about 19,400 market entities to use GI special symbols.
While China's GI industry is booming, Sino-foreign GI exchanges and cooperation are thriving. Among a series of international GI cooperation, Sino-EU cooperation has attracted special attention. China and the EU launched the pilot project of "10+10" mutual recognition of GIs early in 2007, according to Zhang. The Agreement officially came into force in March 2021, marking a milestone for the mutual recognition and protection of quality GI products between both sides, and further arousing China's potential of overseas GI development.
"As of date, China and the EU have seen a total of 110 Chinese GIs protected in the EU and 134 EU GIs protected in China through separate applications, pilot mutual recognition and mutual protection by agreement, effectively expanding the international influence of Chinese GIs. Protection proceddings will be completed for the second 175 GI products of China and the EU each within four years after the Agreement came into effect, and the related work is under way," said Zhang.
Building a communication bridge leading to the future
The Forum brought experts from home and abroad together to make suggestions on GI protection and cooperation, building a bridge of GI exchange and communication between China and foreign countries.
How to achieve a win-win cooperation in the GI industry between China and foreign countries? The experts suggested that in the future, China should improve the quality brand cultivation system and the industrial chain supervision system for GI products, and further enhance the mechanism of industrial chain improvement for GI products. Besides, China should protect the rights and interests of producers and consumers, and safeguard the lawful rights and interests of foreign investors, so as to achieve a win-win or multi-win in GI production, operation and consumption.
While Chinese products are going global, the huge Chinese market is drawing wide attention from the global GI community. Laurent Bili, French Ambassador to China said,France, through the Expo, hopes to introduce GI products of France and other EU member countries to more Chinese industrial associations and consumers, and bring more EU GI products to the Chinese market.
"Promoting better connection between the domestic and international markets of GI products helps to create a 'dual-circulation' pattern to attract overseas medium & high-end factor resources to China," said Zhang. CNIPA will open wider to the outside world, optimize policies and measures for GI protection through Sino-foreign cooperation, improve systems and rules for GI protection, helping to achieve a balance in the supply and demand of GI products between China and foreign countries at a higher level, and promote the steady development of the GI industry in China and abroad under the drive of trade.