Iconic Welsh foods could be granted special status in US markets.

Los Angeles

Welsh lamb and Welsh beef, two of Wales' best known foods, could be granted special status in the United States after it was announced they are to be included in ongoing trade negotiations.

Following pressure from Conservative MEPs and the UK Government, the European Commission has agreed to seek protection for Welsh beef and Welsh lamb, in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks, as well as four other UK brands.

If successful, the move would restrict region-specific branding to goods produced in the country or area named. It would also prohibit the sale of products under titles such as "Welsh-style" beef.

The current US system, and the way it is enforced, means products may be sold in the US using a region's name even if they are not actually produced there. Consequently, European producers may lose out.

Conservative MEP for Wales, Kay Swinburne, said that if the two Welsh products, which already hold EU Geographical Indication (GI) status, were included in the TTIP deal, it could potentially deliver a significant economic boost to Welsh producers and be good news for US consumers.

"I am delighted that the Commission has listened to our representations," said the Welsh MEP.

"The United States has the potential to be a significant market for these food exports but it is difficult for producers to protect their brands. Even if they are able to afford to register under the US trademark system, it provides much less protection than GI status confers in Europe.

Conservative MEPs will shortly be launching a campaign to persuade more UK food producers to apply for GI status and for protected foods to be included in future EU trade deals.

Although Wales already has 6 food and drink products currently recognised and 9 more products under consideration, more companies could benefit from this status and so Welsh Conservatives will be promoting this throughout the summer agricultural shows in Wales.