Jalapeño chiles: Mexico says they're Mexican. Jalapeño chiles: Mexico says they're Mexican.

Trade talks heat up over jalapeño chiles

Chile growers want to prevent other countries from using the names jalapeño and chipotle

Another commodity has the potential to apply some heat to trade talks between Mexico and the European Union.

Earlier this month, Mexican cheese makers demanded the right to sell cheese using European names while negotiators from the European Union want designation of origin protection (PDO) — or geographical indication (GI) — for 57 European cheeses.

Now chiles are the focus.

Mexican producers of chile peppers want their own protection for fresh jalapeño chiles and those that undergo smoking, known as chipotles, from the Náhuatl word for smoked chile.

“Turkish and Asian chiles are entering Europe, chiles that have lower quality than ours and that ride the coattails of the popularity of Mexican cuisine,” said the chairman of the National Chamber of the Processed Foods Industry (Canainca).

Chiles from Turkey are sold with a label showing a jalapeño pepper wearing a Mexican hat, explained Jesús Murillo González, but do not state the country of origin. “They’re not saying it’s from here, but they’re riding the coattails of Mexico’s prestige.”

If the protection is granted only Mexican-grown jalapeños and chipotles processed in Mexico will be able use those names.

Murillo explained that the defense of Mexican chiles focuses on japaleños and chipotles because they’re the two kinds with the highest market impact.

Mexican chiles represent a market of just over 7 billion pesos (US $376 million) annually, most of them being either fresh jalapeños or processed chipotles.

Trade talks will continue on February 5 in Brussels, Belgium.

Mexican exports to the European Union are about $19 billion, a fraction of trade with the United States, which is estimated to have been $302 billion last year but has been under threat from protectionism in the U.S.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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