The European Union and China signed a deal on Monday to protect both of the bloc’s exported food and drinks items, ranging from feta cheese to Pixian bean paste, before they discuss trade, climate change and human rights during an online summit.
The two sides will both respect the names of 100 European regional food designations and 100 Chinese equivalents, meaning that for example, China will only allow the word ‘champagne’ to be used on sparkling wine from the French region that has that name.
This deal will involve food and drinks such as cava, Irish whisky, feta cheese and prosciutto di Parma, as well as China’s Pixian bean paste, Anji white tea and Panjin rice.
During 2019, China was the third-largest destination for EU agricultural and food products, totalling a staggering €14.5 billion.
This deal is a trade coup for Europe, not allowing United States, Australian and New Zealand producers to be able to use the protected names on their exports to China, yet there is a transition period for some of the cheeses in question.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the EU’s chief executive and chairman will later on discuss other taxing topics during a summit that was previously set to be held in the Leipzig with all EU leaders present.
The summit will take place online instead.
European attitudes towards China have worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many scientists believing that the virus originated in China, and also because of the new security law imposed on Hong Kong that the West claims restricts basic human rights on privacy.
The EU has also demanded stronger commitments on climate change from China, with the country being the world’s top polluter.
The two sides are also struggling to seal an investment agreement by the end of 2020, which will give Europe even greater access to the Chinese market whilst also preventing the EU from increasing trade defences.