EU ministers have formally approved negotiations with the Chinese government to strike a wide-ranging bilateral agreement protecting traditional food manufacturers in Europe and China from illicit copies of their products. 

The European Commission will discuss with Chinese officials the creation of an “agreement on the protection of geographical indications for…agricultural products and foodstuffs”, said an EU Council of Ministers communiqué. 

Such a deal would outlaw Chinese food manufacturers making and selling products under names such as Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and Angus beef. European manufacturers could then not copy and sell protected traditional Chinese food products. 

The move follows a July visit to China by EU trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, when he hosted a geographical indications promotion event at the Shanghai Expo.


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