Sugar and pepper get protection
Geographical indication (GI) status for Kampot pepper and Kampong Speu palm sugar has been accepted in Vietnam.
The agreement gives legal protection to both products and stops unscrupulous traders in Vietnam passing off local produce as Cambodian.
The deal was reached last Wednesday after negotiations involving the Ministry of Commerce with help from the French Development Agency and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Op Rady, director of intellectual property at the Commerce Ministry, said the new rules for Kampot pepper and Kampong Speu palm sugar came into effect on December 28 last year. Action would be taken in Vietnam if there was any infringement.
He said that Cambodia also has a GI law and the ministry will implement it effectively.
“The law will protect against any infringement of Cambodian GI products. It also says that Cambodia can list other crops to become GI products after detailed studies,” Mr. Rady said.
He added the law is to protect consumers and producers.
“Cambodia so far does not export Kampot pepper to Vietnam, but Vietnam is also a pepper export country, so having this law with GI registration will prevent Vietnamese companies aiming to export their pepper illegally under the Kampot pepper brand,” Mr. Rady said.
He said it was not possible to file a complaint unless the pepper was registered in the country where the infringement occurred.
“We have to register in advance even if we don’t export to those countries. This is to protect against infringements,” added Mr. Rady.
Kampot Pepper Promotion Association president Nguon Lay welcomed the move, saying the main market for Kampot pepper is the EU, US, Korea, Japan, China Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“We are happy to have our Kampot pepper registered as a GI product in Vietnam, but we have never exported to Vietnam. What we have registered is to protect Kampot pepper in Vietnam,” Mr. Lay said. “We don’t have plans to export to Vietnam but we will consider the Thai market.
He said Kampot pepper exports to the international market dropped by about 10 tons last year from 60 tons in 2015 due to weather conditions, while the price remained unchanged.
Sam Saroeun, president of the Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Association, said that Cambodia has registered GI status for Kampong Speu palm sugar in Vietnam and Thailand to help protect against infringement.
“We will announce to our members and companies that our Kampong Speu palm sugar has been registered as a GI product at Vietnam to make sure that palm sugar exporters can file a complaint if there is an infringement,” he said.
He said that the association sought registration for its palm sugar from Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, but only Vietnam responded to its request. He said that this year, Cambodia exported about 150 tons of palm sugar to 15 countries, mostly in the EU. The association is expanding the harvest areas and palm trees to meet the market demand.
On February 18, Kampot pepper received GI certification from the EU. This means that any product sold in EU countries calling itself “Kampot pepper” must come from a designated region that includes Kampot and neighboring Kep province.
Kampong Speu palm sugar is also being considered for GI status by the EU, as are Kampot salt, Phnom Srok silk, fragrant milled rice from Battambang province and Kampot durian.
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