News & Events

Tánaiste welcomes special status of Irish Cream and Irish Whiskey in China

EU Council agrees list of Geographical Indications between European Union and China 

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, today (Monday the 23rd of November) welcomed agreement that Irish Whiskey and Irish cream will be given special status in China.

The European Council today approved the Agreement on the Protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) between the European Union and China. A geographical indication is a distinctive sign used to identify a product whose quality, reputation or other characteristics relate to its geographical origin. The Agreement will see over 100 EU GIs including two Irish GIs – Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream – granted a high level of protection on the Chinese market. Likewise the Agreement will also see 100 Chinese GIs including Wuyuan Green Tea and Panjin Rice protected in the EU.

The Agreement is expected to enter into force at the start of 2021. The Chinese market is a high-growth potential market for European food and drinks. In 2019, Ireland exported over €5 million worth of alcoholic beverages to China, with Irish Whiskey accounting for 22.5% of these exports.

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD said

“This Agreement is hugely significant and will deliver real results for exporters. Irish food and beverages are known throughout the world for their quality and high production standards. The protection afforded to Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream will be invaluable in accelerating exports to China.

“The Agreement also offers Irish consumers the ability to discover China’s own culinary specialities as we strive to further expand our trading links with Asia.

“This Agreement is a concrete example of cooperation between two of the world’s largest traders and demonstrates the importance of such agreements in building strong trade relations.”

Minister of State for Trade Promotion Robert Troy said

“Irish cream and Irish Whiskey are renowned across the world for their quality. Ireland’s trade relationship with China is ever-growing and this Agreement will strengthen our trading relationship, benefiting both our agri-food sector and our consumers.”



Note for Editors

Negotiations for the EU-China GI Agreement concluded in November 2019. The Agreement establishes the conditions for a high level of protection to a list of 100 EU GIs on the Chinese market, and a list of 100 Chinese GIs in the EU.

The EU list of GIs to be protected in China includes products such as Cava, Champagne, Feta, Irish whiskey, Münchener Bier, Ouzo, Polska Wódka, Porto, Prosciutto di Parma and Queso Manchego. Among the Chinese products, the list includes for example Pixian Dou Ban (Pixian Bean Paste), Anji Bai Cha (Anji White Tea), Panjin Da Mi (Panjin rice) and Anqiu Da Jiang (Anqiu Ginger).

EU quality schemes aim at protecting the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as traditional know-how. In value terms, the market for EU geographical indications is around €74.8 billion, and together they account for 15.4% of total EU food and drinks exports.

The Agreement will ensure the protection of 175 additional GIs, for both the EU and China, within four years of entry into force. The Agreement also includes a mechanism for the addition of more geographical indications thereafter.

Further information on the Agreement: