Friday, 9 October 2015

Extension of GIs for non-agricultural products in the EU: is it important to Latin America?

On September 22, 2015 the European Parliament reported ‘on the possible extension of geographical indication protection of the European Union to non-agricultural products’. The Parliament urges the European Commission to draft legislation on this matter. As noted in a previous post, in a recent symposium on the same topic many participants had one or two things to say about this. However, this post is about why this news is important to the Latin America region (noted in the report under the sub-title 'Relations with third countries').

In the era of globalization one cannot escape several trade agreements between the EU and some Latin America countries. Many of these agreements contain specific clauses for Geographical Indications (GIs) products. However, from the Latin America side they would have negotiated agricultural products and wines and spirits, leaving non-agricultural products aside. This happens for example in the case of Peru and Colombia when negotiating the FTA with the EU. At the time (2010) Peru and Colombia did not have many GIs to negotiate (comparing with the EU that did have over 1200). For instance Colombia did have 3 GIs: cafe de Colombia (already registered in the EU), 'Cholupa del Huila’ (fruit) and ‘Artesanía de Guacamayas’ (handycraft). Peru did have 4: ‘Pisco’(spirit) , ‘maíz gigante blanco del Cuzco’ (corn), ‘Cerámica de Chulucanas’ (clay craft) y ‘Pallar de Ica’ (bean). Therefore, ‘Artesanía de Guacamayas’ and ‘Cerámica de Chulucanas’ were not part of the negotiation since non-agricultural products were (and still are) not recognised as GIs in the EU.

Today, in the Latin American market the registration of non-agricultural products has increased. For example, Chulucanas has been recognised as a GI in other countries, such as Chile and Colombia.
Since 2010, Colombia has recognised more denominations of origin (DO) for handycraft, 9 to be exact (Cerámica Artesanal de Ráquira Colombia; Cerámica del Carmen de Viboral’; Mopa Mopa Barniz de Pasto; Tejeduría Wayuu; Tejeduría San Jacinto; Sombrero Aguadeño; Sombreros de Sandoná; Tejeduría Zenú; Sombrero Suaza). In Colombia there are 10 out 22 registered GIs that belong to non-agricultural products.

Brazil has quite a range of variety for non-agricultural products, from stones to leather; and from services to pottery indeed it has registered 14 out of 45 GIs for non-agricultural products. According to the EU Commission, the ‘EU is Brazil's first trading partner, accounting for 19.5% of its total trade’ and there is ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement with MERCOSUR (Brazil is part of this bloc).

Therefore, for products that are looking for marketing their goods (agricultural and anon-agricultural) in other countries such as the EU, it would be important to register their GI. Is it worthy? Does it really work? In 2012 there was a case brought by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation against the registration of the name ‘Café Nariño’ as a trade mark (in Spain). The case related on the enforcement of a Colombian GI in Spain: the GI in question was "CAFÉ DE COLOMBIA", which was enough to prevent registration of a local applicant's CAFÉ DE NARIÑO trade mark, given that Nariño is a coffee-growing region included within the protected geographical indication (PGI) "CAFÉ DE COLOMBIA".

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