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"This is an enormous market and a great opportunity for producers of Polish vodka," Andrzej Szumowski, president of the Polish Vodka Association, which represents the country's vodka producers, told Xinhua. "It is worth remembering that Poland is the largest vodka producer in the EU and the fourth largest in the world."

WARSAW, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Following the entry into force on March 1 of the agreement on geographical indications (GIs) between the European Union (EU) and China, vodka producers in Poland are eager to bring their premium products to China and further explore the promising market there.

GI is the label used for identifying the geographical origin of a product and is also an important type of intellectual property right. The EU-China agreement protects 100 European GIs in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU.

Polish vodka is one of the GIs identified in the agreement. It is defined as vodka produced in Poland made from five specific grains or locally grown potatoes that contains no additives other than water or, in the case of flavored vodka, natural aromatic agents and a limited amount of sugar.

In 2020, Poland produced 970,000 hectoliters of pure vodka, 7.7 percent less than in 2019. The value of pure vodka exported from Poland in 2020 was 521 million Polish zloty (PLN, 138.4 million U.S. dollars), of which 1.6 million PLN worth was shipped to China, according to preliminary data from Statistics Poland. Poland expects the EU-China agreement on GIs to help reverse the downward trend in Polish vodka exports.

"This is an enormous market and a great opportunity for producers of Polish vodka," Andrzej Szumowski, president of the Polish Vodka Association, which represents the country's vodka producers, told Xinhua. "It is worth remembering that Poland is the largest vodka producer in the EU and the fourth largest in the world," he added.

"Vodka produced in Poland reaches markets on all continents, in countries where alcohol is legally sold and where Polish vodka is still the most famous Polish product brand in the world."

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Szumowski said the Chinese market has enormous growth potential for his industry. "In 2019, China was the third-largest market for EU agri-food products worth 14.5 billion euros," he said. It is also the second-largest market -- nine percent of the total -- for EU exports of GI-protected products, including wines, agri-food products and spirits, he added.

Lukasz Karmowski, president of the Polish Association of Distilleries representing local agricultural vodka producers, calls the agreement "a great success for our national drink."

The agreement "gives us hope that we will be able to strengthen the activities of Poland's agricultural distilleries, which constantly use technology that is unique on a global scale," he told Xinhua. "Thanks to the traditional methods of processing rye, triticale, wheat, barley, oats or potatoes grown by Polish farmers on Polish soil, they now have a chance to strengthen their business position and be an important link in the production chain of our most recognizable drink in the world, of which we are proud.

"We believe that the potential of the Polish vodka as a protected geographical indication will be noticed by consumers in China and they will be able to enjoy its unique taste, which is backed by centuries of tradition."

One of the main benefits of the agreement is that individual producers no longer have to apply for a geographical indication in China. "Polish companies do not have to apply for such protection on the Chinese market anymore," Michal Rzytki, director of the Department of Food Quality and Plant Production Safety at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said in a statement. "This is done by the European Commission."

© Provided by Xinhua

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