British food and drink products such as Cornish pasties, Cumberland sausage and Stilton cheese could lose their special protected status in trade agreements signed since Brexit.
Lord Tyler of Linkinhorne – the former Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall – highlighted the issue after a debate in the House of Lords about the trade deal between the UK and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
According to peers quoted in Cornwall Live, the UK has failed to agree protection for the geographical indicators with Norway and Liechtenstein for products such as Cornish pasties and clotted cream.
The two products are among many British foodstuffs which had previously been given protection under EU rules which meant that they have to be produced using ingredients from their geographic origin and, in terms of a Cornish pasty, also have to be baked to a certain recipe and shape.
Securing the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for pasties had been done to prevent inferior products being created outside of Cornwall and called a Cornish pasty.
All PGIs which were previously agreed by the EU have been continued by the UK Government since Brexit under a new scheme which recognises UK products with GIs.
Lord Purvis said in the Lords: “Clotted cream from Cornwall, Cornish pasties, Cumberland sausage, Welsh lamb and beef, Stilton and Cheddar cheeses—all of which the Prime Minister and Liz Truss, when she was in the DIT, were fond to cite—are no longer protected for our trade in Norway, nor is Scottish wild or farmed salmon, a direct competitor with Norwegian salmon.
“The Norwegians already own much of the industry, and now we have failed to protect our products.”
“You cannot get all that you ask for”
After being pressed on the issue a second time minister Lord Brimstone of Boscobel replied: “I quite accept the importance of the point that he raises. You cannot get all that you ask for, of course, when you negotiate these agreements.”
Lord Tyler, in a letter to Cornish newspapers, said: “I sought assurances from Ministers that the special protection for Cornish pasties and clotted cream – which we secured in the EU under the Coalition – would be replicated in all future trade negotiations. On no fewer than four occasions Ministers told me and Parliament that was guaranteed, and there was nothing to worry about.
“No sooner does the Government attempt to negotiate new trade deals (in this case with Norway and other, smaller countries) that this promise is also ditched. The Minister could only lamely admit: “You cannot get all that you ask for, of course, when you negotiate these agreements”.
“He couldn’t say whether they had even tried to fulfil their promise. If this is the approach they now adopt for bigger trade deals – with the Americans, for example – heaven help our farmers, processors and all food producers. What next?”
However, the Department for International Trade, said that agreement on PGI for agri-foods in Norway had not been secured as it does not have a scheme to protect agri-foods.
The department said that it was seeking protection for a number of UK GIs in agreements it has already reached and would continue to do so according to the relevant procedures of each country.
A DIT spokesman said: “Our Agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will boost critical sectors like digital, financial, and professional business services, slash tariffs on top-quality British exports and support jobs in every corner of our country.
“We have sought protection for a significant number of UK GIs in every FTA we have negotiated, and this deal provides bespoke, high-standard protection that ensures products like Scotch Whisky and English and Welsh Regional wines are protected, as per Norway’s GI scheme.
“Norway does not have a system to protect agri-food GIs, therefore products like Cornish pasties and Cornish clotted cream cannot be registered as GIs in Norway.”