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The trade negotiations between Beijing and the European Union, two giants of the global economy, culminated in a landmark commercial agreement to close Monday's virtual summit.
The European Union (EU) and China signed a commercial agreement Monday to protect one hundred European Geographical Indications (GIs) and Protected Designation of Origins (PDO) in China, in exchange for reciprocal actions recognizing and protecting Chinese products in the European Economic Area.
The agreement was reached as a result of a virtual summit held Monday between the two economic powerhouses. At the meeting, the EU was represented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel from Brussels, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel from Berlin. President Xi Jinping from Beijing represented China.
The negotiations regarding this agreement began in 2006 and did not conclude until November 2019, a reason for which the European Commission declared the event "historic." The deal will go into effect once the documents have been signed at the beginning of 2021, and four years later, the agreement will be expanded to include another 175 Geographical Indications by both parties.
The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski, expressed that, "European Geographical Indications products are renowned for their quality and diversity. It is important to protect them at an EU and global level to ensure their authenticity and preserve their reputation."
The European Union, which considers China a "strategic partner" as well as a "systemic rival," hopes to cooperate with the Asian country in all possible realms. At the same time, however, the EU "firmly" defends its interests, a point which stood out during the online gathering.
According to data provided by the European Commission, in 2019, China constituted the third-largest export market for EU agricultural products, valued at $17 billion. Similarly, from January through May 2020, EU agricultural sales to China increased by 38% in comparison to the previous year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that China and the European Union must "stick to peaceful coexistence, opening, and cooperation, multilateralism, as well as dialogue and consultation to achieve the healthy and stable development of our relations." China is now the second-largest export market for products protected by Geographical Indications.