Conquering discerning markets
Phu Quoc fish sauce is the first product of Vietnam and ASEAN countries that has its appellation of origin officially protected in all 27 EU member states and is also Vietnam's first GI recognized and protected in the EU. Accordingly, only fish sauce produced and bottled in the island district of Phu Quoc and meeting specific quality standards can be distributed legally to the EU market under the "Phu Quoc" appellation of origin.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, since the EU agreed to protect GI, Phu Quoc fish sauce exports to this market have increased significantly, and their selling prices have increased by 30-50 percent. The fish sauce is also exported to other markets, such as the US, Australia, Japan, and Canada.
Luc Ngan lychee from Bac Giang Province is another typical example of GI protection registration in foreign countries, allowing lychees to penetrate demanding markets, such as Australia, France, and the US. The lychee recently became Vietnam's first agricultural product granted a GI protection certificate in Japan, marking a significant achievement in intellectual property protection for key national products.
Many other Vietnamese trademarks and GIs are protected in foreign countries. They include Buon Ma Thuot coffee GI protected in Russia and Thailand; Van Yen cinnamon GI protected in Thailand; Binh Thuan dragon fruit trademark protected in Japan; Thai Nguyen tea protected as a collective trademark in the US and China and Moc Chau tea trademark protection certified in Thailand.
Vietnam's attention to protecting GIs and trademarks domestically and its strategy to increase the number of GIs and trademark protection for its products abroad reflects an urgent priority in Vietnam's efforts to integrate more deeply into the world market.
Under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement that went into force in 2020, the EU commits to protect 39 Vietnamese GIs, mainly vegetables and fruit (accounting for 49 percent), industrial crops and processed products accounting for 15 percent; aquatic and its processed products 13 percent; and other products 13 percent.
Stepping up support activities
As an agricultural country with specific favorable natural and human factors, Vietnam has thousands of high quality products with reputations and economic value associated with different locations.
Dr. Trinh Van Tuan from the Center for Agrarian Systems Research and Development explained that given Vietnam's deep international economic integration, its agricultural products are facing fiercer competition in the domestic and export markets. Therefore, Vietnam has to diversify its export strategy, focusing on the export of specific products of high quality and added value, through community trademark protection.
"Protecting the appellations of these products through various forms of intellectual property protection, such as GIs and collective trademarks to exploit the product's popularity is the best practice today that many countries around the world adopt to avoid trademark abuses in domestic and foreign markets," said Tuan.
Ta Quang Minh, Director of the Vietnam Intellectual Property Research Institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), said that the registration of GI protection in foreign countries is very important to ensure a market share for Vietnamese products. Localities and craft villages that have specialties need state support in registering intellectual property for their export markets.
Dinh Huu Phi, Director General of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) under the MoST, affirmed that his agency has been formulating and implementing policies in this regard and coordinating and supporting localities accordingly. However, there must be a roadmap to address the issue, with priorities given to certain localities. State agencies need to give them guidance on registration procedures in a particular order, and advise them on regulations regarding management and exploitation of GIs.
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