MEIG Highlights 6 avril 2021

Highlight 12/2021 – The EU-China Landmark Geographical Indications Agreement: a breakthrough to improve trade development and intellectual property protection

You Chu, 6 April 2021

(Source: Ministry of Commerce P.R. China, available at

After eight-years of negotiations, the EU-China Landmark Geographical Indications Agreement was signed in 2020 and has entered into force in March 2021. The agreement is generally recognized as the first bilateral agreement on geographical indications (GIs) signed by the Chinese government, which will have great significance in improving the EU-China trade development and strengthening the protection of intellectual property between the contracting parties.

This Agreement does not aim to raise new trade barriers between the EU and China but to lower the intellectual property risks in international trade at the “national” level. Besides, since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement was signed in 2020, the Asia-Pacific super economic circle has been taking shape. In this regard, it shall be well noted that this Agreement will have a positive impact on opening the Asia-Pacific market for the EU and bridge the cooperation on the recognition and protection on GIs between the EU and the member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the role of China playing in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and RCEP.

This EU-China Agreement includes fourteen articles and seven annexes, covering the scope of the agreement, the established GIs, the addition of GIs, the scope of protection of GIs, the right of use of GIs, the relationship with trademarks, the enforcement of protection, and transparency and the exchange of information. It does also provide for the establishment of a joint committee, cooperation provisions and other technical provisions. It also listed the GIs of products including 100 GIs (e.g. Sichuan Style Pickles) and additional 175 GIs (e.g. Luzhou Laojiao Liquor) of products originating in China, 100 GIs (e.g. French Champagne) and additional 175 GIs (e.g. Bulgarsko rozovo maslo) of products originating in the EU, and 17 special listed GIs of Chinese handicrafts (e.g. Jingdezhen Porcelain).

Before entry into force of this Agreement, although the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has provided the minimum-standard protection for GIs for general products and the additional protection for the GIs for Wines and Spirits, the GIs of products originating in any contracting party in the above-mentioned lists are given enhanced protection under the contracting parties’ legislations after entry into force of this Agreement. Moreover, the Joint Committee in session and the established contact points in contracting parties will build a platform for sharing information on GIs of products through interaction, dialogue, and cooperation in the course of performance of this Agreement. In a nutshell, this Agreement is a breakthrough to improve trade development and intellectual property protection at international level, and also its implementation will further decrease the legal disputes and reduce the business risks for private sectors.

You CHU, The EU-China Landmark Geographical Indications Agreement: a breakthrough to improve trade development and intellectual property protection, Highlight 12/2021, available at

The views expressed in the MEIG Highlights are personal to the author and neither reflect the positions of the MEIG Programme nor those of the University of Geneva.


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