Understanding Geographical Indications

Understanding Geographical Indications

Summary of the proposal

This ANU Centre for European Studies (ANUCES) GI Project, funded by an EU Jean Monnet grant, aims to identify the evidence base underlying policies on geographical indications (GIs) thus contributing to more effective negotiations between the European Union and Australia/New Zealand in the proposed comprehensive trade agreement.

Background and Rationale

The GI Project addresses a clear need. At present there is a gulf between the Australian approach to geographical indications and the European approach. To date there has been little attempt to narrow this gap, with much of the debate taking place on ideological grounds. However now that the EU’s policy on geographical indications has been in place for 25 years, there are some data to allow a clear empirical investigation of when, where and how GIs contribute to the prosperity of producers and rural and regional areas. A broader appreciation of this evidence will be an important contribution to facilitating more productive approaches to negotiating the GI content of the proposed comprehensive trade agreement between the EU and Australia/New Zealand. By convening an Academic Workshop to assess the range of empirical evidence on GIs, the project will create useful material to feed into the proposed Forum for policymakers and trade negotiators.


ANUCES is a leading source of EU knowledge in Australia. Through earlier work in association with the Europe Australia Business Council, ANUCES has developed considerable knowledge in the field of geographical indications. This project aims to update and strategically assess the compiled evidence on the practical impacts of GIs. It will thus:

  1. provide readily available materials on when, where and how GIs are most effective in achieving their agricultural policy objectives;
  2. present this evidence in a clear and accessible format to policymakers and trade negotiators; and
  3. spread the dissemination of this evidence through European networks, focusing on identifying key gaps in current knowledge


The Understanding GIs Project consists of an Academic Workshop (in Canberra), a Policy Forum (in Canberra) and an Academic Workshop in Berlin focusing on priorities for policy-oriented research. The first Academic Workshop will bring leading GI researchers together to assess the state of GI knowledge. By including agricultural policymakers in this workshop, research results will be scrutinised for policy relevance. The Policy Forum will reach out to disseminate the main findings to a broader set of policymakers and trade negotiators. Building on these events, the Academic Workshop in Berlin will focus on identifying the priority issues where policymakers, particularly agricultural policymakers, are in need of better information and evidence.

A Visiting Fellowship will be awarded as part of this project. Read more

Main Outputs

The Project’s main outputs will be:

  • a Background Paper collating and assessing existing knowledge on GIs;
  • an Academic Workshop in Canberra, with participation from academics from a range of disciplines and of policymakers from agriculture departments;
  • a Policy Forum in Canberra directed to disseminating the workshop results to a broader range of policymakers and trade negotiators;
  • an ANUCES website for dissemination and information sharing; and
  • an Academic Workshop in Berlin directed to setting forth an agenda for priority research necessary to increase the effectiveness of geographical indications policy. 


The Understanding GIs Project will result in a far better documented and nuanced understanding of the economic impacts of GI policy. It will create an impetus for more focused and better targeted future research in this area. It will provide policymakers with a soundly-based understanding of when, where and how geographical indications can promote farmer prosperity and, more broadly, rural and regional prosperity. Finally, it will create a common understanding of GI impacts to support more productive trade negotiations.

In terms of specific content, the Project aims to:

  • update previous compilations of knowledge about GIs (latest existing is 2011);
  • identify key researchers working on GI impacts;
  • create accessible and user-friendly evidence-based GI information for policy makers and trade negotiators;
  • increase the mutual understanding of trade negotiators as regards the practical uses of GIs; and
  • expand the range of academic effort on GIs by providing a clear set of priorities for future policy-oriented research. 


The GI Project will bring together the academic community undertaking empirical work on GIs. This community is currently widely dispersed with scholars coming from many different disciplinary backgrounds. The Academic Workshop will target academics who have or are about to undertake empirical research related to GIs and their impact. By including policy-makers in the assessment and evaluation of existing knowledge it will enhance the ability of academics to focus their work to maximise its relevance to policy-makers. The GI Project will support dissemination of knowledge about the impact of GIs among policymakers not usually exposed to the empirical evidence on the impact of GIs. The Project will create an impetus within the academic community to fill in the key knowledge gaps needed to improve the effectiveness of GI policy.

Much of the current academic literature on GIs is theoretical or conceptual. This is of little help to trade policy negotiators as such work simply paints negotiators into “New World” or “Old World” corners. There is, however, scattered empirical research and there is a strong need to gather and review this evidence. The project will identify and analyse these studies to help identify the main gaps in the knowledge that policymakers need. The generation of a priority list of needed research on GIs will help to ensure that future research efforts are well targeted.

Milestones and Timing

September 2017 to March 2018 – Preparation; establishment of website

March to June 2018 – Delivery of Canberra Academic Workshop

March to June 2018 – Delivery of Canberra Policy Forum

September 2018 – Delivery of Berlin Academic Workshop

Further information

For further information contact the Project Manager, Adjunct Associate Professor Hazel Moir: hazel.moir@anu.edu.au

Updated:  23 March 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications