Geographical Indications An Engine For Development, EU Panellists Say At WIPO 23/04/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe here. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate. Geographical indications can provide socio-economic benefits for developing countries, said speakers at a side event to the World Intellectual Property Organization Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) this week. The European Union Delegation and the Permanent Missions of France and Italy organised a side event on the added value of appellations of origin and geographical indications (GIs) for developing countries. The CDIP is meeting from 20-24 April. Separately, from 11-21 May, WIPO will host a diplomatic conference (a high level negotiating meeting) among WIPO members expected to adopt a new amendment, or “Act” of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their international registration. The new act will open the agreement to the international registration of GIs. Peter Sørensen, head of the EU delegation to the UN, said on the side event panel that the reason why the EU “fancies GIs” is because they can be found all over the world, and GI products are products with a story. GI producers can get a clear premium on the market with their products selling over twice the price of other products, he said. Geographical indications are signs designating products having a specific geographical origin from which those products derive particular qualities. Appellations of origin are GIs with stricter production rules. GI production helps sustain the local economy and create jobs locally, as the production of GIs has to be where the GIs belong, said Sørensen. African IP Organisation: IP Tool for Development, GIs Paulin Edou Edou, director general of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI – Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle), said African countries are mainly not aware of GIs’ potential. In general, he said, it is important to raise the awareness of policymakers and entrepreneurs about the fact that IP is an important element of development. Although Africa is rich in terms of potential natural and human resources, some of the world’s poorest countries are in the continent, he said. Those countries which have a higher revenue are drawing it from the sale of raw material, he said, and will need to diversify their economy as natural resources face gradual exhaustion. Among the IP tools that could be used by African countries, Edou Edou cited patents, in particular in the area of medicines, as well as industrial designs, and GIs. OAPI includes 17 member states, 13 of which are least developed countries, he said. The 17 member states represent 160 million inhabitants. In many African countries, he said, the agricultural sector, although employing a large portion of the population, does not contribute considerably to the GDP. Several products with a solid reputation are not protected, he said, citing the “sugar bread” pineapple from Benin, and the Galmi onion from Niger. OAPI convened a high level negotiating meeting (diplomatic conference) in 2005 on GIs, he said, which adopted a plan for the promotion and the protection of eight pilot products. After conducting some strategic analysis, it was finally decided to concentrate on four products: Penja pepper, and Oku white honey, both from Cameroon; Mount Ziama coffee from Guinea; and Khorogo cloths from Côte d’Ivoire. Events in Côte d’Ivoire prevented the pursuit of the project on Khorogo cloths, he said, but work was conducted on the three other potential GIs, with the help of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Agency for Development), a funding partner. The three products were registered as GIs. Penja Pepper, Teboursouk Olive Oil Taking as example the Penja pepper, Edou Edou detailed the improvements noted after the pepper was registered as a GI. The number of producers rose significantly, he said, going from about 20 producers to over 300 producers. The registration also helped producers to have technical support, and to establish a control system. A geographical area was defined and the production of pepper increased from 50 to 300 tons, he said. As for the price, he said before the registration producers were selling their pepper between 2,500 and 3,000 CFA francs (about US$4 and US$5) and now can expect to sell it between 8,500 and 10,000 CFA francs (about US$14 and US$16). René Claude Metomo, a Penja pepper producer, said the geographical production area covers about 3,000 km2 and was defined according to ecological data such as soil, climate and altitude, which give the Penja pepper its characteristics, he added. In 2015, he said, the pepper will be labelled with a “protected GI” logo, and the protection of the Penja pepper GI will be sought in the EU. Ezzedine Ben Hadid, a producer of Teboursouk olive oil, said the manufacture of the olive oil and the system of culture of the olive trees come from ancient know-how. The olive grove spans over 4,500 hectares with 10 transformation units (transformation from olive to oil) but the local industry is poorly organised, he said. The value of the product is not enhanced, he said, with fluctuation in the production, inconsistency in its quality, bulk marketing, and the lack of identification of the product, which makes it indistinguishable to final consumers. The improvement of the quality of the product and its promotion are two main challenges, he said. The product needs identification, with a name, a label and a logo, he said, and its promotion needs to be carried out at national and international fairs. French Institutions Supporting GIs The AFD and the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), a public French research institution, are both involved in supporting OAPI countries identify and protect their GIs. In particular, the AFD provides funding but also institutional help, such as the setting up of legal systems, strengthening institutional structures capacity, and supporting regional organisations, said Aurélie Ahmim-Richard from AFD. The AFD also provides support in identifying products with high potential and support in organising the different actors of the sector, she said. The Large Sale Value of GIs in the EU Diego Canga Fano, director, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission, said in the EU some 1750 GIs are registered for wine, 1214 for food and 336 for spirits. The sales value of EU GIs was €54.3 billion in 2010, he said, and represented 5.7 percent of the total EU food and drink sector. The estimate of EU GI exports value is €11.5 billion and represents 15 percent of EU food and drink industry exports, he said. Ambassador Angelos Pangratis, head of the permanent mission of the EU to the World Trade Organization, said there is often a controversy around GIs. GIs are “trapped into a debate between the old and the new world,” he said. However, a closer look reveals that the controversy is usually caused by narrow established commercial interests, he added. With a longer term perspective, all countries can benefit from better protection of GIs, he said. Another debate is between the protection of products through trademarks, or GIs, or a combination of both, he said. Trademarks, he said, often require significant investments and efforts and tend to favour larger commercial players. GIs on the other hand, can be easily available to all producers in a given area, regardless of the size and depth of their pockets, he said. This is important for smaller farmers and producers in both developed and developing countries, he said, but he added, proportionally even more important for small producers in developing countries. For the EU, Pangratis said, elements of GIs must be part of the overall economic and political balance at the WTO agricultural negotiations. “GIs respond to profound trends of consumer aspirations,” he said, and the rapidly evolving needs of the global market and they become more and more important for producers, he added. In this new reality, there is a need to develop deeper common rules, he said. Those common rules can be developed in WTO, WIPO or elsewhere, he said. Image Credits: Flickr – KLO.J Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Geographical Indications An Engine For Development, EU Panellists Say At WIPO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.