The War on "Terroir": Geographical Indications as a Transatlantic Trade Conflict
Terroir, the concept of an essential link between location of production and a specific quality attribute, is emerging as a contentious issue in trade negotiations and disputes. This issue is manifest through disputes and disagreements about appropriate protection of 'geographical indications' (GIs). This paper explores the differences in approach taken by the EU and the US towards GI protection, and illustrates the nature of the legal and economic arguments. The transatlantic dispute is spreading to other countries through the inclusion of GI protection in regional and bilateral trade pacts. It also has implications for the eventual conclusion of the WTO Doha Round negotiations, as the terroir issue arises in both the agricultural and the Trade-Related Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agendas, once again pitting the US and EU as protagonists. But there are signs of change in these positions as the GI system in the EU comes under review and producers in the US reconsider the possible advantages of location-based identifiers. These issues are important in a number of food sectors, and are likely to be persistent. They deserve more attention from practising applied economists than they have yet received. Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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