Friday, May 11, 2007

Korea EU FTA stuck in "Scotch" Tape

In a rather amusing turn, the Korea Times has a story today where somebody figurative smacks their head and goes "oh yeah I forgot about that". In the upcoming Korea EU FTA negotiations apparently a major issue will be Geographic Indicators (GI), a subject always dear to the EU:

Geographical identification (GI), which restricts the usage of product names to those authentically produced in the place of origin, has risen as one of the key issues in the first round of the Korea-EU free trade talks that began Monday.

With the enforcement of GI status, domestic liquor players will no longer be able to use familiar names such as Cognac (a type of brandy produced in Cognac), Scotch Whiskey (made in Scotland) and Sherry Wine (produced in Spain) on locally-made alcohol products.

Technically speaking GI's are on the books in Korea, but they were only recently enacted and so there is limited regulatory framework in place to enforce the law. To complicate things, most, if not all, of the recognized GI's in Korea are for Korean products, thus fueling charges of discriminatory and unfair trade practices. Also of related interest, as I read the press reports, it seems the recently concluded Korea US FTA specifically identified Bourbon for GI protection in some way.

Of course one of the ironic things about this is one of the leading Korean "scotch" brands is Imperial, which is owned ultimately by Pernod Ricard, a French company (as I recall its a blended whiskey of real Scotch and local "Scotch").


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