Perspectives from Law, Economics and Political Economy
Edited by Meir Perez Pugatch
Chapter 17: Geographical Indications, Trade and the Functioning of Markets
17. Geographic indications, trade and the functioning of markets Phil Evans The issue of the interface between food policy and trade policy has been an area fraught with controversy for some considerable time. While food safety issues and their possible misuse as barriers to legitimate trade have been with us since the onset of the GATT in the late 1940s, other food issues have begun to grow in importance. One of the most interesting, and contentious, issues is that of Geographic Indications. What is particularly interesting about the debate around GIs is that almost all the main protagonists in the argument have some form of protection for them, but none agree about how far they should go, or perhaps more importantly how they should aﬀect trade. It would not appear to be a debate about principle but rather of degree. What is also interesting is the degree to which the debate has avoided discussion of competition issues in agricultural markets. This is, in part, because of historical provisions excluding many agricultural markets from competition overview, most notably in the EU. The role of the Common Agricultural Policy and general ‘exception’ aﬀorded agriculture in competition law is neither new nor surprising. It should be remembered that competition policy in its modern form ﬁrst emerged in the USA, Canada and Australia as a rural revolt against urban ‘trusts’ that were seen to be doing down the farm communities.1 This original rural revolt has aﬀected the manner in which competition...
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