February 20, 2020

What MFAT had to say: It’s time for submissions on the proposed GI extension

On Tuesday we attended the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) presentation held in Auckland as part of the consultation process for its discussion paper entitled “EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement Negotiations: Protection of Geographical Indications in New Zealand.” 

Our previous commentary on the paper can be found here.  In this commentary we highlighted our concerns around the extension of the GI system to food and what this would mean for food producers.  We also raised concerns about the potential costs involved and the fact that New Zealand will be required to “foot the bill” for enforcement of EU GIs on the NZ register and what impact this would have on our current GI system. A copy of the paper can be downloaded here.

Jonas Holland (Intellectual Property Chapter Lead) and Alison Hamilton (Deputy Chief Negotiator)from MFAT presented and discussed the GI aspects of the EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement negotiation, some key areas of the discussion paper and also addressed specific question sand concerns raised by attendees. 

The key message was that MFAT wants submissions to be made on its paper, it needs to hear from businesses who will be affected by the potential changes,specific examples and real stories are needed to assess the scale of impact that the extension of GI protection might have on New Zealand and its businesses. Information from people and businesses will be used to help inform the negotiations and ensure that New Zealand considers all relevant factors when negotiating its position on GIs.

MFAT indicated that submissions would be useful on the following topics: 

  • The GI extension will have a major impact on NZ food producers. The EU has 2200 registered GI names and NZ has only 20 (and our current system only covers wines and spirits). Under the EU proposal, the EU names would be included on NZ’s register as part of any agreement reached under the EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement  negotiations and they will remain in the GI register unless they are revoked in Europe.  Is this OK?  Should NZ consider this to be a problem or not?
  • What the protection of any such GI names should look like under New Zealand law, how broad should the protection be – does it need to be detailed and prescriptive or more broad reaching?  
  • Given that it is likely food will be included in the extension, New Zealand will need to ensure that its food producers are adequately and fairly protected by any extension of the regime, how can this be best achieved?
  • Under the EU’s proposal, enforcement processes and costs for the regime will be managed by New Zealand. But it has not yet been determined how this will be done and who will be responsible (and who will bear the cost).  Negotiations have to take into account New Zealand’s existing regime, but what does this mean and what should it look like?
  • There will be some country-specific changes needed to cover New Zealand-specific GIs.  What exceptions should be made for New Zealand GIs and existing businesses?
  • How our existing legislation could be amended to cover the extension of the GI system in New Zealand, what should the administrative process look like and who should be managing the new GI system.

The closing date for submissions is 5 pm, Friday 27 March 2020

Please get in touch with Laura if this impacts on you and your business.  We can provide you with further information and help with preparation of submissions.


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