Geographical Rights Sought for The Best of Cambodian Goods

A new EU-backed initiative hopes to establish Cambodian brands among an elite group of globally recognized origin-specific products, a Phnom Penh seminar was told Monday.

Champagne from France, Parma Ham from Italy and Phu Quoc fish sauce from Vietnam are all goods with geographical indications, meaning they possess qualities or a reputation due to their place of origin.

Now, a new draft law prepared by the Ministry of Commerce is intended to lay groundwork to implement a system in Cambodia by which goods here can attain similar status internationally.

Battambang rice, Banteay Meanchey silk, Kompong Speu palm sugar, Kampot pepper, Siem Reap fish paste and Carda­mom spice from Pursat are on a shortlist of products that are to be examined to see if they have the criteria required to come up to GI standards, Com­merce Under­secretary of State Mao Thora told the seminar Monday.

“We hope that one or two out of these can be registered as GI products,” Mao Thora said.

The seminar also heard that Cambodia needs intellectual property offices that grant trademarks and design protection and offer the regulatory mechanisms for producers to protect geographical indications.

“Geographical indications is not a certificate,” said Stephane Passeri, an administrator for the EU-funded EC-Asean Intellectual Property Rights Cooperation Program, or ECAP II. “It is an intellectual property concept. Such rights have to follow national legislation, without which there is no recognition that can be claimed outside Cam­bodia,” Passeri said.

An exhibition featuring pro­ducts benefiting from GI protection as well as Cam­bo­dian products hoping to gain GI status is taking place as part of the seminar.

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