ECONOMY

Greek feta among hurdles in EU-US trade talks

Genetically modified crops, chlorine-washed chicken, beef quotas and a fight over who can call Greek-style cheese “feta” all block the way toward the world’s largest free-trade deal.

US and European Union negotiators will determine a list of sticking points this week in Washington during their third round of talks, and food issues are expected to be chief among them.

At a time of low economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic, EU-US free-trade negotiations seek to integrate two markets representing almost half the world’s economy in a sophisticated agreement going far beyond lowering tariffs.

But food is different and the old issues that have bedeviled many trade talks around the world are likely to complicate the ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between Brussels and Washington.

The EU is determined to write into any deal its system of geographical indications, which protects countries’ or regions’ exclusive right to product names, such as France’s champagne, Greek feta cheese or Italian Parma ham.

US groups say this demand “defies credibility” because in the cause of free trade, US producers would, for example, no longer be able to market cheeses as “feta.”

[Reuters]