We are consulting on the framework for protection of geographical indications (GIs) proposed by the European Union (EU) as part of our negotiations for a free trade agreement.

Overview

New Zealand and the European Union (EU) launched negotiations for a free trade agreement in June 2018.

Our negotiations cover a wide range of areas that are of interest to both New Zealand and the EU.

One of our objectives is to ensure our exporters get significantly better access to the EU market. One of the EU’s objectives is the protection of geographical indications (GIs). This is of significant cultural and economic importance for the EU.

As part of the negotiation, the EU wants us to protect GIs in much the same way as they are protected in the EU. This would require significant changes to our existing laws that give protection to GIs. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) want to understand how these proposed changes could impact New Zealanders before we negotiate the detail of the EU’s proposal.

The EU has asked that we change our laws to protect 2,200 of its existing GIs for wines, spirits and food products for the exclusive use by EU producers. A separate consultation in late 2018 sought public views on the specific names the EU wants protected. This consultation closed in March 2019.

What are geographical indications (GIs)?

Geographical indications (GIs) are usually names that identify that a product comes from a particular area. They indicate that a product has a given quality, reputation or other characteristic that is strongly associated to that area.

For example, “Central Otago” is registered as a wine GI in New Zealand. It identifies wine that is made from grapes grown in Central Otago and, as a result, has particular characteristics that distinguish them from wines made from other grapes from other regions.

Current consultations on the framework for protection of GIs

We want your input on one of the EU’s key proposals in the EU-NZ FTA negotiation – the framework for protection of GIs. Read the EU-NZ FTA - Geographical Indications framework discussion paper here [PDF, 1.4 MB].

The EU has put forward a number of proposals that, if accepted, would require significant changes to New Zealand’s current law. For example, the EU wants GIs for foodstuffs like cheeses to have a higher level of protection. Amongst other things, the EU wants express rules that would stop an unauthorised cheese producer labelling its cheese as being “like” or “in the style of” a GI protected cheese name.

The EU also wants broader protection to apply in New Zealand for all GIs generally. This would include GI protection stopping unauthorised use of, not only the protected GI, but also words or images that may call to mind or “evoke” the GI (in the EU).

For example, in the EU, the “Scotch Whisky” GI was used to stop a German whisky producer naming its whisky “Glen Buchenbach” after the EU courts found the word “Glen” (Scottish for stream) evoked the GI “Scotch Whisky”.

Why is this consultation required?

This specific consultation is needed because the EU’s GI proposals if accepted would require significant changes to New Zealand’s existing laws protecting GIs. Given the scope and technical nature of these proposals, we want to understand how they may impact New Zealanders. That information will be important in the negotiations.

We also want to understand where the balance between the costs and benefits of the EU proposals sits for New Zealand.

How will the Crown consider Māori interests?

As a Treaty partner, the Crown wants to work with Māori understand the potential risks and benefits for Māori in relation to GIs.

We understand there is interest amongst Māori about the potential use of GIs to protect Te Reo names that are associated with certain products and places. This was noted in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Wai 262 report (Ko Aotearoa Tēnei). We need to understand whether these interests line up with what the EU has proposed and whether there are other concerns that need to be addressed.

We are working with Taumata on these questions and will be running Māori focused workshops as part of our engagement for this consultation. Details will be available soon for public consultation meetings to be held in early 2020.

How do I take part in the consultation process?

You can find a consultation discussion document, jointly prepared by MBIE and MFAT, outlining the proposals and some key questions to consider here.

We need your feedback on the proposed framework. We want to hear your views on how the proposed changes would affect you or impact on your business, sectors or groups, communities and regions. We want to understand the costs, benefits, opportunities and challenges for New Zealand.

Your views will help inform New Zealand’s negotiations with the EU. Submissions can be sent to: EU-FTA@mfat.govt.nz

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

Please note that unless you advise otherwise, your feedback may be published online or publicly released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Your contact details will not become publicly available if feedback is published.

Get in touch with us by emailing EU-FTA@mfat.govt.nz if you have any questions.

We may contact submitters directly if we need to clarify information regarding their submission.

How will feedback from the consultation be used?

The EU has put forward its proposals as part of its opening position in the negotiation. We will negotiate these proposals as part of the wider negotiation of the range of issues addressed within the free trade agreement.

Your feedback will help Ministers decide what position New Zealand will take in the negotiations to get the best outcome for New Zealand and will allow negotiators to engage in further discussions with the EU.

Ultimately, New Zealand’s agreement to some or any of the EU proposals will be subject to a satisfactory outcome in the overall agreement for New Zealand. However, the EU has made it clear that protection of EU GIs in New Zealand will be an essential part of any final agreement.

Disclaimer

This consultation needs to be understood in the broader context of the EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiations.

In scoping discussions between New Zealand and the EU prior to commencement of negotiations, the parties agreed that negotiations should aim at providing a broader framework for the recognition and protection of GIs beyond wine and spirits. But both parties recognised that any agreement on providing such a framework would be subject to a satisfactory outcome in the overall agreement for New Zealand.

Nothing in this consultation process indicates that New Zealand has agreed or will agree to any GI proposals made by the EU, or that there will be any changes to New Zealand’s current domestic regulatory regime for GI protection.

Join one of our public consultation meetings

Join one of our workshops to discuss the consultation document and the EU’s proposed framework in more detail. We look forward to seeing you there.

Wellington

Date/time: Tuesday 4 Feb, 12:00–2:00PM

Location: MFAT - register on Level 12, 195 Lambton Quay, Wellington

Register by emailing FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz

Blenheim

Date/time: Wednesday 12 Feb, 5:00–7:00PM

Location: Scenic hotel - Marlborough Room, 65 Alfred Street, Blenheim

Register by emailing FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz

Auckland

Date/time: Tuesday 18 Feb, 12:00–2:00PM

Location: 139 Quay Street - register on Level 4, Auckland CBD

Register by emailing FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz

Rotorua

Date/time: TBC

Location: TBC

Register interest by emailing FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz

Nelson

Date/time: TBC

Location: TBC

Register interest by emailing FTA_outreach@mfat.govt.nz

Previous consultation on protected names (closed 19 March 2019)

 Background

We called for submissions in late 2018 on the EU’s list of wine, spirits and food product names they want recognised and protected in New Zealand as part of the EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiation. The EU is looking for New Zealand to recognise and protect these names as GIs. This consultation closed on 19 March 2019.

As background, information on this earlier consultation process for protected names is included here.

For more information on the negotiation, see our EU-NZ free trade agreement page here.