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EU, China sign food protection deal ahead of tough summit

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and China on Monday signed an agreement to protect each other from exported food and drink products, from feta cheese to Pixian bean paste, ahead of tough talks on trade, climate change and human rights at an online summit.

FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel attends a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Brussels, Belgium, June 22, 2020. REUTERS / Yves Herman / Pool // File Photo

The two parties will respect the names of 100 European regional food designations and 100 Chinese equivalents, which means, for example, that China will only allow the use of champagne on sparkling wines from the French region of that name.

The pairing will extend to cava, Irish whiskey, feta and prosciutto di Parma, as well as Pixian bean paste from China, Anji white tea and Panjin rice.

China was the third largest destination for EU agricultural and food products in 2019, worth € 14.5 billion ($ 17.2 billion).

The new deal is a trade coup for Europe, as US, Australian or New Zealand producers will no longer be able to use the protected names on their exports to China, although there is a transition period for some. cheeses.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Director General and President will discuss more painful topics later at a summit to be held in the German city of Leipzig in the presence of all EU leaders.

Europeans’ attitudes towards Beijing have hardened because of the coronavirus, which many scientists say originated in China, and because of a new security law in Hong Kong which the West says , restricts fundamental rights.

The EU wants stronger commitments on climate change from China, the world’s largest polluter.

The two regional powers are also struggling to seal an investment deal by the end of the year, give Europeans greater access to the Chinese market and prevent the EU from increasing its trade defenses.

(1 USD = 0.8434 euros)

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott, editing by Louise Heavens

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