Japan and UK trade protected product statuses

Businesses have welcomed the news that 37 geographical indications (GIs) are formally gaining protection on 29 February following the completion of UK and Japanese scrutiny processes. A second group of protections is set to be announced once further work has concluded.

Japan’s population of 125 million has a strong appetite for international food and drink. The country’s status as the world’s third largest economy in 2022 and GDP per capita of £27,400 highlights the strength of its consumer market and the commercial opportunities for premium British products in Japan, according to the UK Department for Business & Trade.

Securing GIs for iconic British products such as Staffordshire Cheese and Orkney Scottish Island cheddar prevents counterfeit products being placed on the Japanese market, ensuring UK businesses can export with confidence and consumers receive authentic, high-quality products. 

Trade policy minister Greg Hands said, “The UK’s excellent selection of unique, high-quality products are highly sought after around the world. Consumers in Japan can now be assured that they are enjoying the authentic taste of great British food and drink.

“This announcement not only protects beloved British delicacies like Scotch beef and Cornish pasties, but also gives UK producers added confidence when selling into Japan, part of our plan to help British businesses grow and export more.”

Food and Farming minister Mark Spencer said, “Our GI protections are a guarantee of quality and excellence – so that the best of British food and drink can be appreciated not only here in the UK, but around the globe. These additional protections will give assurance to British farmers and producers who export their unique products to Japan – and to Japanese consumers who will know they are buying the real thing.”

For UK businesses, GIs are vital for building trust and enhancing brand recognition, ultimately driving export growth and supporting the sustainability of local industries. They also reinforce the UK’s position as a producer of distinctive and sought-after goods. 

Managing director at Rodda’s Nicholas Rodda said, “The UK is celebrated for producing some of the very best food and drink in the world. The GI status not only strengthens the authenticity of our Cornish clotted cream on a global stage, but also provides new opportunities for our business conversations internationally. The GI status ensures consumers can continue to enjoy Cornish clotted cream with knowledge that it has been made in Cornwall, with Cornish milk and crafted using traditional methods as it has been at Rodda’s for over 130 years.” 

The UK will also be protecting the Geographical Indications of several Japanese food and drink products, including Hokkaido wine and Hiba beef. British consumers can shop with confidence, knowing they are purchasing authentic Japanese goods. 

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2021 and will lead to the increase of protected GIs from just seven under the EU-Japan trade deal to over 70. 

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