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WASHINGTON - The Grocery Manufacturers of America will stress the importance of lowering trade-distorting tariffs and subsidies, and caution against including non-trade concerns such as geographical indications in trade negotiations at the Fifth World Trade Organization Ministerial this week.
The world's top trade officials are convening in Cancun, Mexico to decide issues pertaining to global industrial tariffs, farm subsidies, and cheap medicines for poor countries.
"The goal of this WTO Ministerial is to provide consumers, producers and others around the world with improved access to services and agricultural and food products that can improve the quality of life," said GMA director of international trade Sarah Thorn. "This week's negotiations must continue that promise, and focus on lowering tariffs, eliminating trade distorting subsidies and increasing market access for all WTO members."
GMA will attend the Ministerial as a recognized non-governmental organization, providing negotiators with information about the negative impact high tariffs and agriculture subsidies have on the price and availability of processed foods and beverages both domestically and globally.
Maintaining that all agricultural products should be included in liberalized trade agreements with no exceptions for commodities such as dairy and sugar, the GMA further believes that creating a new system to protect GIs -- as proposed by the EU -- would represent a direct threat to long-held trademarks and well-known brands.
"European proposals for GIs could lead to the weakening of existing trademark protections for all brand-name products -- including Parmesan and Roquefort cheeses, Pilsner beer, and Champagne, to name a few -- and could lead to the cancellation of long-standing trademarks with no legal redress for the trademark holder," Thorn said.
Thorn said GMA is adamantly opposed to new negotiations on GIs at this time, as any concession on this issue could undermine future gains in market access for food and agricultural products. "We believe that sufficient rules already exist to guarantee that GIs are adequately protected," she noted.