Specifically, geographical indications can help sell product at 50 times better price than the same product on the market. However, this advantage is being wasted.
Great benefit from geographical indications
By the end of January 2018, green Siamese coconuts in Ben Tre have been certified geographical indication - a sign used to refer to a quality or prestige product originating from a specific region, locality, territory or country. This is good news for the people of Ben Tre when opening up new business prospects for products from coconut trees. The coconut itself is a significant source of income. The statistics show that the world fresh coconut water market reached $ 22 billion in 2016, increased from $ 533 million in 2011.
Ben Tre has 40% of the population growing coconuts and also accounts for nearly 40% of the total coconut plantation area in the country. The advantage of having a geographical indication certainly gives Ben Tre many benefits when building a development chain from coconut.
Ms. Vu Kim Hanh - Director of Vietnam Association of High Quality Products said that at the meeting with Thai traders organized by the Association in 2017, coconut masks, coconut fiber carpets of Vietnam were proposed long-term cooperation from foreign businesses. Other products such as coconut ropes, coconut milk, coconut fibers, agricultural products, ... also received interest from foreign businesses.
Vietnam has many economic valued specialities attached with the place-names such as Hung yen longan, Thanh Ha litchi, Thai Nguyen tea, Nam Roi pomelo, Lo Ren star apple …Up to March 2018, Vietnam has protected 66 geographical indications with about 1,000 products, including 60 geographical indications of Vietnam and 6 geographical indications of foreign countries.
According to Ms. Delphine Maria Vivian from the The French agricultural research and international cooperation organization (CIRAD), there are 4 benefits from geographical indications: bringing added value to the manufacturer; helping enterprises and localities against counterfeit goods and low quality products; promoting local products, attracting tourists; protecting, preserving the traditional culture in the local. If the geographic indicators are well exploited, it will bring great benefits to Vietnam.
In fact, products with geographical indications are sold at much higher prices than products without them. Mr. Tran Anh Tuan - Director of The Pathfinder Company provides specific evidence of geographical indications of Cambodia. Currently, Cambodia has only two products with geographical indications, pepper and jellies, but it is exploiting this advantage by focusing on quality, and a small output for export. Thanks for geographical indications, the price of pepper in Cambodia is up to 425 USD / kg, while Vietnam pepper price is only 8 USD / kg.
In Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India ..., the potential of coconut is well exploited. India is considered as a country with "strong coconut economy" cause having many agencies, departments and enterprises involved. Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology has researched, launched a new program to develop technology for solving problems after harvest.
Those initiatives have created added value for coconut powder, coconut milk, coconut chips and coconut wine. Meanwhile, Vietnam has a large coconut plantation area but has not been on the "map of coconut world". About the coconut, there is only one export business but it mainly exports to Asia such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan.
Delphine Maria Vivian said that Vietnam's most unfortunate thing is that geographic indications have not been used much and exploited effectively in trade. There is still no cooperation, link between management agencies, manufacturers and consumers.
“Up to 50% of geographical indications of agricultural commodities in Vietnam have no managers and operators. For example, the Hung Yen cinnamon geographical indication is authorized by the State, assigned to the Local Cinnamon Industry Association, but this association has met only once on the establishment date in 2011. Or Moc Chau tea has a management association but does not exploit effectively geographical indications because all 10 members are processors, no farmers involved, "said Ms. Delphine Maria Vivian.
While in other countries, geographical indications are managed by professional associations, in Vietnam they belong to the State. This leads to the fact that many local producers are protected but do not use the geographical indication logo because they do not know their rights. Therefore, the brand name Buon Ma Thuot coffee has lost its trademark and has to sue to regain the brand from China.
According to Delphine Maria Vivian, Vietnamese consumers care about the origin of products but find little information about geographical indications on the label of safe products, organic ... This is a pity and waste when we have to put effort, money to be certified geographical indication but pay little interest, usage.
Along with this, Assoc. Prof.&Ph.D. Pham Xuan Da - Director of the Southern Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology, products with geographical indications help businesses gain competitive advantage in the market, and open their chances to the world market. However, the geographical indications of Vietnam have not been fully evaluated in terms of efficiency. If the province has registered the geographical indication and left it to the locality with no investment and exploitation, then the geographical indication is almost invalid.
On the management side, there is no connection between senior management agencies. Geographical indications issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology; instructed, encouraged cultivation and developed chain by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; trade promoted by Ministry of Industry and Trade. But there is no connection among them in the development of special trees, fruit to make the high value product chain.
To maximize the effectiveness of geographical indications, according to Ms. Delphine Marie Vivien, there is a need to raise awareness among farmers and growers, producers and traders of the benefits and importance of geographical indications in addition to the reasonable management of plantations, production of products .
Localities should attach importance to registration of geographical indications for processed products as well as to their origin when bring them to the market. More importantly, "Vietnam should allow professional associations to join from the first place when registering for protection of geographical indications because they understand the products and processes and will protect these intangible assets later. "advised Ms. Delphine Marie Vivien.