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Address by the Ambassador of Italy, Gianluigi Benedetti on the occasion of the signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of activities for the protection of Geographical Indications and the correct information of foods to consumers on the Rakuten marketplace” Tokyo, 14 December 2021

Dear Secretary of State Battistoni,

Dear Vice President Takeda,

Dear colleagues from the Italian Ministry of Agricultural and from Rakuten,

It is a great pleasure for me to participate in this very important event finalized to preserve and promote our PDO and PGI products and to strengthen consumer’s awareness and knowledge about quality certifications on the wide Rakuten Marketplace, two goals in line with the guidelines established in the EU-Japan EPA, signed in 2019.

Preserving PDO and PGI products has become in the past years one of the top priorities in our activities to promote the Italian excellent products of the agri-food system in order to prevent unfair commercial practices.

These efforts are particularly important in Japan, which represents for Italy a strategic market with great potential and an encouraging prospective of growth in trade. Indeed, also in this long and difficult pandemic period, Italy continues to be Japan’s second EU supplier after Germany.

A large contribution to our success came thanks to the e-commerce platforms that in the past months registered a great increase in the number of consumers and sales.

In this scenario, Rakuten has confirmed to be one of the most important and popular e-commerce market in Japan and I am very glad to acknowledge that protection of high quality products already is an important aspect of their commercial policy.

Rakuten is indeed engaged in the creation of a safe and aware environment for its customers by implementing measures to guarantee product quality, organizing periodical monitoring activities and preventing phenomena like the “Italian sounding” with the elimination of infringing products such as imitations and fakes.

Moreover, since 2019 Rakuten has been a significant partner of the Embassy of Italy on the occasion of the Week of the Italian Cuisine in Japan, the program launched by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to support and enhance knowledge of the Italian cuisine and its tradition. More than 200 Italian products, including our best PDO and PGI products were offered and promoted on the Rakuten e-commerce platform.

I am therefore very happy that this fruitful collaboration between Italy and Japan will be reinforced in a few minutes by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rakuten marketplace.

I believe that this collaboration will be fundamental in preserving the highest quality of our products in Japan, in monitoring certification of PDO and PGI agri-food and wine products and, last but not least, in achieving a safer and more transparent e-commerce market for consumers.

Congratulations to you all and best wishes for a new year of higher volumes of sales of the excellent Italian products in the Japanese market!