Irish Whiskey industry welcomes historic EU-China agreement on protection of geographical indications

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Association thanks Commissioner Phil Hogan as Irish whiskey secures protection in China for first time

Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association has welcomed the new EU-China agreement on protection of geographical indications (GI).

The agreement, which was under negotiation for a number of years, was finalised today at a meeting in Beijing and will be signed Wednesday (5.30 am Irish time) by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. The agreement will ensure protection for Irish Whiskey – Ireland’s leading GI category – in China for the first time.

From now on only Irish whiskey distilled and matured on the island of Ireland can be labelled and sold in China as Irish whiskey. It also provides a legal recourse to take action against fake Irish whiskey on sale in China.

William Lavelle, Head of Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association stated: “Irish whiskey sales in China have historically been low, but the category recorded 50% growth in 2018. Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for authenticity. This agreement protects and promotes authenticity and will grow sales.

“The protection provided in this agreement will further give Irish whiskey producers the confidence to invest in increased sales and marketing in China, knowing that there is legal remedy to crack down on fake competitors.”

Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association, in conjunction with spiritsEUROPE, the representative federation for the EU spirits industry, had been actively lobbying for finalisation of this agreement.

William Lavelle added: “We wish to congratulate and thank Commissioner Phil Hogan and all his team in the EU Commission for securing this agreement. As Commissioner Hogan prepares to leave the agriculture portfolio, we want to acknowledge his remarkable achievement over the past five years in opening-up new market opportunities for European food and drink and securing increased GI protection globally for EU categories including spirits.”

“We wish Commissioner Hogan all the very best in his upcoming new role as EU Trade Commissioner and we fully support his stated approach to address international trade disputes.”


Note: Irish cream liqueur will also be protected under the new agreement.