Geographical Indications Protection: Popularisation Solution for Farm Product Quality

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The National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) under the Ministry of Science and Technology said 35 products have to date registered for protection of geographical indications (GI) in Vietnam, including three foreign products. Potentially, about 1,000 products in Vietnam could register for GI protection.

Some specialties of Vietnam such as Phu Quoc fish sauce, Shan Tuyet tea, Buon Ma Thuot coffee, Doan Hung grapefruit, Binh Thuan dragon fruit, Hai Hau fragrant rice, Vinh orange, Lang Son anise and Thanh Ha litchi have been certified with geographical indication protection. These products are strongly sold on the world market at high prices because of their quality creditability. This is the inevitable typical for products with protected geographical indications, Mr Franz Jessen, Head of the European Union Delegation in Vietnam, said in a recent conference in Hanoi.

According to specialists belonging to the EU Delegation in Vietnam, in Europe, GI-certified products have higher prices than the same kind without GI certification.

GI protection is an effective solution to confirm the quality of agricultural products. According to EU statistics, about 2,768 products in EU have GI registration, of which up to 82 percent are agricultural and food products and domestic consumption accounts for about 20 percent. Mr Laurent Lourdais, Advisor of the Agriculture and Rural Development Department, European Commission (EC), said GI products link to traditional customs and inherit local and national prestige. GI products are new innovative products, but they are recognised traditional products. GI labelling certifies that the value of products is existing and unique. GI is the guarantee that protected products are distinguished from the rest from the same geographic location. For consumers, they accept higher prices for GI-certified products to be assured of quality, origin and specificity of products.

In reality, GI protection is also a solution to protect the name (reputation) for valuable products. Producers of GI products must protect the reputation of products by maintaining and improving standards in order to achieve higher product prices or at least maintain the prices.

Mr Tran Huu Nam, Deputy Director of NOIP, said that, in Vietnam, apart from the commercial aspect, GI also meets diverse demands for food safety, natural resource and biodiversity protection, and thus helps develop rural culture and national culture. In practice, protection programme has positive and important impacts on many farming areas and countryside where GI-certified products are grown and processed.

According to GI experts of the EU Delegation in Vietnam, GI protection is not a comprehensive solution for improving product competitiveness in the market or a comprehensive solution for addressing all issues related to agricultural products. However, legally, it is an important instrument to prevent counterfeiting and trade fraud and protect existing markets. When the Vietnam – EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) takes effect, Vietnam should have GI-certified products when they approach the EU market, Mr Franz Jessen recommended.
Nguyen Thanh

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