Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Geographic indication (GI) is considered an effective way of protecting and adding value to unique products, and should be used more in Việt Nam, experts have said.
GI designations show that products have specific geographical origin and qualities or a reputation due to that origin.
GI is used to protect traditional products whose uniqueness and reputation are closely linked with the geographical location where they originated.
Speaking at a seminar in HCM City on Wednesday, Phạm Xuân Đà of the Ministry of Science and Technology said that GI could add value, increase access to new or existing markets, gain a competitive advantage, and reap more profits. It also helps fight against misuse or unhealthy competitive acts.
GI protection preserves biodiversity and develops traditional industries and tourism sector and help consumers understand the value of the products.
As of last month, Việt Nam has granted protection certificates to 66 GIs, of which six are from other countries, he said.
Delphine Marie-Vivien, researcher in intellectual property and food law at CIRAD, a French research centre specialising in international agricultural and development issues, said: “The origin of food is important for consumers who value tradition and cultural identity and who are sensitive to specific sensorial and organoleptic characteristics of these products. Some consumers are willing to pay more to find such characteristics in the product.”
Việt Nam drew up a legal framework for GI protection in 1995 under which the State is the owner of the GI, and has the right to register the GI. It can delegate the right to producers (both organisations and individuals) and administrative authorities of the locality.
The State has the right to manage the use of GI, control and promotion, but it also can delegate the responsibility to people’s committees in provinces, districts or cities.
Producers have the right to use the GI, including organisations and individuals authorized by the managing authority.
Yet despite the political will to promote GIs, the use of registered GIs on products for sale in Việt Nam is still limited due to a lack of awareness among producers and consumers and a lack of interest from local stakeholders about GI value, as well as the absence of involvement by local authorities in the promotion of GI and GI products.
Other issues include lax implementation of quality control and lack of efficient collective action to manage the GI.
As a result, it is necessary to overcome the lack of awareness, strengthen organisation of producers and processors after initial GI registration, and build up efficient control systems before commercialisation that can help prevent fraud.
Bến Tre case
Bến Tre Province recently obtained GI certifications for its grapefruit and Xiêm coconuts, which would help businesses and farmers develop markets for these GI products.
After successfully obtaining GI certificate, much more efforts are needed to promote the use of the GI, Đà said.
GI protection had a beneficial impact on economic development in many areas of the province’s economy, and thus producers should learn about the GI system, he said.
Trần Anh Tuấn, an expert on market research, said demand for coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut ice cream has increased significantly in the global market, offering more opportunities for the province to develop such products.
To exploit GIs in the most effective way, producers need to “enhance innovation to come up with better and higher added value products.”
At the seminar, Tuấn showed samples from countries in the region that have successfully commercialised GI products.
Representing the province, Lê Văn Tân, director of the provincial Department of Science and Technology, said the province would establish regulations on GI management and using and grant GIs and revoke the right to use GIs.
It will also oversee the farming process of GI products and promote GI products both in domestic and international markets.
Since its GI coconut products are mainly for export, participants at the seminar said the province should register to protect its GI products in other countries to create a solid legal foundation for exports.
The seminar on the role and impact of GIs in local economic development was organised by the Vietnamese High Quality Goods Association and Bến Tre Province People’s Committee on the sidelines of the Vietnamese High Quality Products Fair in District 11. — VNS