Agricultural products need protection after FTA

April 28, 2013 | 14:08
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Signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam will create opportunities for exported Vietnamese agricultural products in the EU market.

The EU will not only reduce its taxes on these goods but also accept responsibility for protecting the reputations of famous Vietnamese agricultural produce brands.

The European Commission (EC) in Vietnam recently organised a workshop on Geographical Indication (GI) and the prospects for protecting Vietnamese agricultural products in the EU.

Ambassador Franz Jessen said the EU is one of Vietnam’s most important trade partners. Vietnam’s total EU export revenue has hit US$13 billion, making it the only regional grouping to boast an export turnover increase last year.

Negotiations for the EU-Vietnam FTA look destined for success. After it is signed, most Vietnamese agricultural products will only face taxes ranging from zero to five percent. The ratification of the GI agreement will deliver many benefits to the Vietnamese agricultural industry.

Many foreign businesses use counterfeits to exploit the reputation of Vietnamese agricultural brands already popular in the EU.

Ratifying the FTA will encourage producers possessing GI in Vietnam to register for the direct protection of their traditional products in the EU, making international promotional significantly easier.

Tran Huu Nam, Deputy Head of Vietnam’s National Office of Intellectual Property,  said Vietnam’s geological, climactic, and cultivation idiosyncrasies  create many agricultural products that would benefit from GI.

So far, Vietnam has granted GI to 35 agricultural products, three of which are protected overseas. Statistics suggest almost 1,000 products could be eligible and suitable for GI.

EC Department of Agriculture and Food Representative Laurent Lourdais, explained the EU’s three GI-related systems currently in operation. They are Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and the Traditional Specialty Guarantee (TSG).

Farm produce bearing GI certification  are sold at twice the price of those without. Consumers are also protected from unwittingly purchasing counterfeits.

The EU has extended its GI protection to 14 foreign agricultural products, including some from China (10 products), Colombia (one), India (one), Thailand (one), and Vietnam (one).

Once the Vietnam-EU FTA enters into effect, the procedure for registering Vietnamese goods for this production will become radically simpler.

Some Vietnamese specialties—such as Chu Se pepper, Buon Ma Thuot coffee, Shan Tuyet tea,  Binh Thuan green dragon fruit, and Phan Thiet fish sauce—are internationally renowned and need the EU’s anti-fraud protection.

As both the EU and Vietnam have long agricultural histories encompassing numerous traditional farming methods, farm produce GI certification is especially important for socioeconomic development in rural areas.

VOV

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