Published: 10:20, 14 September 2020
| Updated: 11:39, 14 September 2020
Whitstable oysters, Kentish ale, East Kent Golding hops and English sparkling wine are among the county's iconic products which could be protected in Japan for the first time as part of a new trade deal .
The UK-Japan comprehensive economic partnership agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and the Japan Foreign Minister on Friday and is the UK’s first major trade deal outside the EU.
The deal secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, including a way for South East products to be officially recognised.
By increasing geographical indications (GIs) from just seven under the terms of the EU-Japan deal to potentially over 70 under the UK-Japan agreement, this would lead to improved recognition of key UK brands in the Japanese market.
GIs have long carried considerable commercial weight with famous examples being the likes of champagne and Irish Whisky. It means products can only be marketed as such if they originate from the regions their name suggests.
Wine producers at the Gusbourne Estate have recently secured a deal with Japan Airways which will see its sparkling wine sold in the airline’s first-class lounges and is set to increase the company’s sales to Japan six-fold.
Duncan Brown, head of export and travel retail at Gusbourne, based in Appledore, said: “Having ‘English sparkling wine’ protected is crucial to Gusbourne and the category’s development. We are producing high-quality, luxury products, and have ambitious growth plans which could be seriously disrupted by lower value produce of other provenances or using different production methods but using our designation.
“With Japan being the world’s third largest champagne export market, it provides natural potential for our English sparkling wines."
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Beer and Pub Association added: “The ability to have protected geographical indicators for certain products and materials is important in safeguarding the heritage of UK brewers and hop growers, particularly when expanding into new markets such as Japan.
“Many of the raw materials used in UK brewing are unique to this country so we welcome the news that styles like Kentish ale will have the opportunity to better retain their unique character. We look forward to introducing more of our Great British beer to the Japanese market.”