Ukraine and the European Union made good progress in October during the latest round of negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA).  Another round is due in December: both sides are hoping it will go equally well, with a view to concluding the DCFTA possibly as early as mid-2011.  Conclusion of a DCFTA could give a boost to Ukraine's economy estimated at up to 5% additional growth per annum.

As the negotiations proceed, some of the toughest issues - often left until last in international negotiations - will rise to the top of the agenda.  One of these is so-called geographical indications .  These are when a product is identified as originating in a region or locality in a particular country.  Examples include Scotch Whisky (from Scotland); Parma Ham (Italy) or Champagne (from France).  Protecting geographical indications can help preserve traditional cultures, increase regional income, help consumers know what they are buying and maintain product quality.  The problem for Ukraine is that the former Soviet Union did not recognise such geographical indications and a tradition developed of calling local products, for example, Soviet Champagne or Crimean Cognac.    

The Ukraine paper "Delo" asked me about this in an interview I gave last year.  In response, I said Ukraine should identify what products it had which needed protecting.  Asked which Ukrainian product I thought should be designated, I noted that, although I was not a big vodka drinker, highly qualified experts from Russia and Sweden had told me that Ukrainian vodka, known locally as Horilka, was far better than Russian or Swedish vodka.  I therefore suggested that a product called "Horilka", which was known to be superior and unique vodka from Ukraine, might be a worthwhile geographical indication.  Another local product which could be protected is Massandra desert wine from Crimea, the best examples of which are exquisite and quite hold their own with the products of Madeira, Sauternes and Oporto.  Gaining such protection will help open up exciting opportunities for Ukrainian companies to establish themselves in the world's largest integrated market.    

I was reminded of this question recently when a senior representative of a third famous vodka-producing country, Finland, said to me unprompted that they found Ukraine Horilka the best vodka in the world.  If top experts from Russia, Sweden and Finland all say Ukraine Horilka is best, that sounds compelling to me.  As I said in December, Ukrainian food experts may have better suggestions - I'd welcome ideas from readers, too.
Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

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