As of 1 April 2019, the new Registry of Geographical Indications at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) will begin operations to receive applications from anywhere in the world for the registration of geographical indications (GI). GIs are products that possess special qualities or enjoy a certain reputation due to its geographical origin.
While GI protection is currently available for wines and spirits, the establishment of the Registry will extend GI protection to other agricultural products and foodstuff such as cheeses and cured meats. Additionally, producers and traders of registered GIs will be able to request for customs authorities to detain suspected infringing goods which are imported into or exported from Singapore.
This is especially good news for the Malaysian agriculture industry as the country has an abundance of high-quality produce which are well known regionally. Some of these produces includes Bentong gingers and Sarawak peppers.
The new GI Registry follows on from the European Parliament’s consent for the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) on 13 February 2019 and the enhanced level of protection will be implemented in stages in accordance with the ratification of the EUSFTA.
In function, the GI Registry is similar to the French Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Regulations in place will hold produce to a rigorous set of clearly defined standards. As such, AOC products will be produced in a consistent and traditional manner with ingredients from specifically classified producers in designated geographical areas.
GIs provide consumers with information about the products’ unique characteristics, qualities or reputation that can be attributed to the product’s geographical origins. This helps consumers make better informed buying decisions by providing the information needed to verify the authenticity of the product.
Some of the GIs can already be found in our supermarkets include Pinggu peaches from China, Idaho potatoes from the US, Ichida Gaki (dried persimmon) from Japan, Waiheke Island wine from New Zealand and Champagne wine from France. With the establishment of the GI Registry, consumers can look forward to a broader range quality wines, spirits and agricultural products on our food shelves and dining establishments.