OPEN founding partner Hosuk Lee-Makiyama was quoted in The Economist’s Charlemagne column on what pizza reveals about Italy’s economic woes on 6 June
Chefs and farmers, pizza-makers included, have every right to brand their dish and set their own standards. The state must obviously ensure that food is safe. Governments have an interest, too, in guaranteeing the quality of some premium appellations—Champagne, say. But the profligate use of state-enforced GIs smacks of producers trying to gouge consumers. Italy betrays an innate protectionism: rather than compete on global markets, producers want to enshrine “heritage”, ask for Europe’s help and maximise the rents they can extract from “quality” products. They complicate trade deals as the EU seeks to stop others from using terms such as “feta”. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, a fellow of OPEN, a new British think-tank, says the value of geographical indications in trade deals is unproven; they are mostly a sop to farm lobbies to compensate for cuts in subsidies.