British regional products at risk in Brexit trade negotiations

08 June 2020, 09:53 AM
  • The failure to secure guarantees threatens iconic food and drink made in the UK
British regional products at risk in Brexit trade negotiations

As British farmers fight to uphold agricultural standards amidst the prospect of poor-quality imports, it seems that British producers will now have a fight on their hands as Brexit trade negotiations continue.

As part of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has agreed to keep in place EU protections for 3,347 products, including champagne and Parma ham. However, the EU didn’t reciprocate, and UK officials failed to secure the same guarantee for British regional products on the continent, according to The Telegraph.

A total of 83 British products currently have EU protection, including Melton Mowbray pork pies, Cornish clotted cream, Welsh lamb, Scotch whisky and Cumberland sausage. After Brexit, however, UK products will only be protected under EU law if they are included on the EU register of Geographical Indications (GIs), which protects the names of food and drink products from a certain area in an effort to prevent other producers from using them.

Whilst EU product protection is now guaranteed under international treaty, lack of such protection for British products means that foods such as Cornish pasties could be made in parts of the EU, yet legally be called Cornish pasties.

Trade negotiations are expected to continue as the Government works towards its end-year deadline.

David Frost, UK chief Brexit negotiator, said on Wednesday: “The problem with the Withdrawal Agreement, which obviously we are committed to, is that it requires us to protect EU GIs in this country in perpetuity, but does not place any such obligation on the EU to protect ours.

“We would like to have something that is a bit more balanced and make sure that our GIs are properly protected.”

Lord Tyler added: “If the Daily Telegraph report is correct, then this is yet another broken Brexit promise. The irony of it all is that if it happened, we would still use the EU GI status in the UK, which means someone could not make pasties in Yorkshire and call them Cornish, but you could make them anywhere in the world and call them Cornish. It’s loony.”

The Government has announced that it plans to introduce a new UK GI system effective from January 2021, following the transition period. Under the new proposal, producers from the UK and EU will be able to apply directly to the scheme.

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