Dear Secretary of State,
RE: UK-Japan Trade Deal – Japan protection update for local specialties
I am writing to remind you of the promises that were made to Pembrokeshire and to Wales over three years ago as part of the October 2020 UK-Japan trade deal, and to demand that you take action to secure the long-overdue protections that our specialty exporters need and deserve.
When the post-Brexit agreement was announced, the government promised that 77 new UK food and drink products would be guaranteed protected geographical indication (GI) status in Japan, alongside seven existing protections carried over from the previous EU-Japan trade deal, covering the likes of Scotch Whisky, Scottish Salmon and Stilton Cheese.
GI status is vital for producers to protect them against competition in foreign markets from falsely-branded imitators. Securing those protections has become an important objective of modern trade deals to support the export potential of specialty food and drink products.
Of the 77 new protections that were promised by the Westminster government in October 2020, fifteen were for Welsh specialties, including Pembrokeshire Earlies, Carmarthen Ham, Caerphilly Cheese, West Wales Coracle Caught Salmon and Sewin, Welsh Laverbread, Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef, Welsh Wine, Welsh Cider, Conwy Mussels, Anglesey Sea Salt and Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum.
At the time, then Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: "This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan. From our Welsh lamb and Pembrokeshire early potato farmers to our Traditional Welsh cider breweries, this deal will create new opportunities for people throughout Wales and help level up the whole of the UK."
Her department originally said that all 77 new protections would be in place by May 2021, and boasted that – thanks to the agreement – the UK would benefit from a fast-track process for securing brand protection that "would not have been possible" under the EU-Japan deal, under which it said "the EU must negotiate each new GI individually on a case-by-case basis."
But while the EU has added 84 extra products to its protected list since October 2020, including 28 more just a few weeks ago, the government has yet to secure brand protection for a single one of the 77 products it originally promised. The EU's number of GIs in Japan now stands at 291, while the UK is still stuck with only the seven protected products it inherited from the EU-Japan deal.
Pembrokeshire and Welsh producers are entitled to ask why your government’s promises have not been kept, and why you have been seemingly completely inactive on such an important issue, especially since we've already had to watch 84 additional EU products receive protected status in Japan in the same time that we've been waiting for ours.
I look forward to receiving your response.
Labour Candidate for Mid & South Pembrokeshire
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