Two fruits and one vegetable native to China are among four products that have been formally registered under the European Union's geographical indications scheme, it has been confirmed.
The Guanxi Mi You honey pomelo and the Shaanxi ping guo apple join Longjing Cha tea on the EU list of Protected Denominations of Origin (PDO), while the Lixian Ma Shan Yao yam has been registered as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
The four products are among a total of 10 Chinese product names due to be protected in the EU register as part of a project called '10 plus 10', which will also see 10 celebrated European products – including Parma ham and Grana Padano cheese – given sinilar protection under the official Chinese geographical indications register managed by the country's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
At a meeting last week, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos handed over the registered certificates to Mr Zhi Shuping, the Chinese minister responsible for AQSIQ.
The '10 plus 10' project was established in July 2007, when EU and China formally lodged applications for the protection of 10 agricultural products in each others' territories.
"While the respective geographical indication systems are similar, significant differences in procedures and linguistic problems had to be overcome," said a spokesperson for the European Commission.
"Before being approved, the applications are treated and examined by each side according to the exacting legal and administrative standards, including the right of any interested party to oppose registration."
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Ciolos said: "As my recent trip to China showed me, our system of GIs is very important for providing consumers with guarantees of quality, tradition and food safety, as well as giving producers protection from imitation and a useful marketing tool."
He added: "Our shared goal is now to build on this success by putting in place a broader agreement on GIs, for the mutual benefit of farmers and consumers in China and Europe."
On the EU side, five Chinese products have now received protected status: The four today as well as the vermicelli, Longkou Fen Si.
Among the remaining Chinese products due to be granted EU protection are Dongshan Bai Lu Sun asparagus and Jinxiang Da Suan garlic.