The pilot project started in July 2007 when both the EU (European Commission) and China (AQSIQ1) formally lodged applications for the protection of 10 agriculture GIs in each other's territories. Since then, each of the Chinese GIs has undergone examination, including the right of any interested party to oppose registration. While the geographical indications systems are similar, significant differences in procedures and linguistic problems had to be overcome. The process was given an additional boost when EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș visited China in 2010, including a trip to see the production of Longjing Tea.
In terms of value, China is among the 5 most important export markets of EU GI products (agricultural products, foodstuffs, wines and spirits). In 2010 the total value of GI exports to China amounted to more than € 650 million2. Wines and spirits represent the biggest part in terms of value: between 2005 and 2010 the exports of EU GI wines and spirits to China increased fourfold, i.e. by more than 400%.
A project aiming at ensuring protection of 10 famous EU food names in China, the biggest consumer market in the world, has now been finalised. "Grana Padano", "Prosciutto di Parma" and "White Stilton cheese" / "Blue Stilton cheese" were the last of 10 EU names that have been protected as Geographical Indications in China as part of the so-called "10+10 project". In parallel, the European Commission has examined and registered 10 Chinese food names with the last 2 Chinese names "Pinggu da Tao" (peach) and "Dongshan Bai Lu Sun" (asparagus) receiving protected status in the EU as Geographical Indications. These 10 Chinese names have been added to the more than 1000 names of agricultural products and foodstuffs, which are protected in the EU (among them 13 non-EU GIs). Not only does the GI system provide an important protection against imitations, but it is also known to be a useful marketing tool.
Commissioner Cioloş welcomed the completion of the project: "The EU and China have rich traditions in the production of quality products, and the GI system is a good way of highlighting these regional traditions to consumers. China is a key future export market for EU food products. The completion of the 10+10 is an important step in the process towards a better protection in China of EU Geographical Indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs. We are now looking to build on this success through negotiating a broader bilateral agreement on GIs, which we hope to conclude in the course of 2013."