The International Trade Council (ITC) notes with concern the prolonged delay in the formal protection from imitation for various British food types in Japan. This includes notable products such as Cornish pasties, Welsh lamb, and Melton Mowbray pork pies, among others.
In September 2020, former trade secretary Liz Truss heralded a post-Brexit trade agreement with Japan as a milestone for the UK as an independent trading nation. This deal was expected to guarantee the same tariff arrangements the UK enjoyed as part of the EU. Furthermore, Truss promised that numerous British food brands would be recognised in Japan by May 2021, safeguarding these products against potential imitation.
However, almost three years on, 77 food types awaiting "geographical indication" (GI) status - a form of protection for products based on their region of origin - have yet to receive such recognition. This situation leaves UK exporters unprotected against imitation by Japanese producers.
The ITC recognises the importance of such protections in maintaining the uniqueness and value of these products in international markets. We encourage all parties to expedite the process of securing these protections.
It is of importance to underline that products including Scotch and Irish whisky, and white and blue Stilton, enjoyed protected status under the previous EU-Japan deal. This arrangement protected exporters from imitation and helped to uphold the value of these brands in international markets.
The ITC supports efforts to ensure that all British food and drink products retain their protected status in international markets following Brexit, and encourages all parties to work collaboratively and expediently towards this aim.