Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli and Ambassador Dr. Lansana Gberie
130.   On this subject matter, we have requested the floor to first thank the European Union for its very intensive and friendly coordination with the Sri Lankan authorities, both in Brussels and with our capital. We submitted our application to the EU authorities for seeking protection within the European Union for this very valuable geographical indication, as Sri Lanka had been trying to promote Ceylon Cinnamon to distinguish it from other varieties of cinnamon, or other similar varieties of spices. 131.   I think the exercise began some years ago, by particularly creating a specific classification for Ceylon cinnamon which actually differentiated it from other spices like cassia and the tamala leaves, because they belong to a similar botanical family. We managed to make this differentiation even in the World Custom Organization. And then, subsequently, we also protected certain processes that are quite unique in making this particular spice variety. So it is not only the agricultural commodity product itself but all the production process, quite unique compared to the other production processes that are being used in the production of cassia. 132.   We know that this product fetches normally a high value in the international market compared to other competitive products of cassia. With this geographical indication, particularly since this is the first country which has recognized and granted the adequate protection for us in the EU market, I would say that this is the way for our producers to obtain much higher prices in the world market. This is a challenging job. I know that we also plan to obtain similar protection in other markets, particularly in South America and in the United States which are the main market. 133.   This is a valuable opportunity for Sri Lanka, despite the many challenges we faced while obtaining this protection in the EU market. There was an objection, relating to the use of Ceylon cinnamon in other commodities, such as in a tea variety. This is because the protection that we have got is actually not the high level of protection, which is normally accorded to the wines and spirits. Now, if you have the high-level protection, then such an attempt can also be restricted by the third- party user. I mean, we can restrict it and limit the use by third parties. So, we are very much in favour of having Members' direction and attention towards according the high level of protection for such cinnamon, and other products coming from developing country Members. They made lots of investment in creating an enabling environment for such products, and similarly, we are also now looking forward to launch other application at the EU in seeking a similar protection for Ceylon tea, which is, again, a very well-known GI round the world.
The Council took note of the information provided and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
43. The Chair recalled that Article 24.2 of the TRIPS Agreement required the Council to keep under review the application of the TRIPS provisions on geographical indications. The principal tool used for the review was the Checklist of Questions in documents and . Since the Council's October 2021 meeting, Switzerland has submitted updated responses which had been circulated in document .
44. The Chair invited Switzerland to introduce their submission.
45. The representative of Switzerland took the floor.
46. The Chair thanked Switzerland for providing detailed and comprehensively updated answers to the list of questions on geographical indications.
47. He said it was unfortunate that only 52 out of 164 Members had responded to the Checklist so far; and that many of these responses were likely to be outdated. In his view, this did not adequately reflect the fact that GI protection was an active area of legal and policy development at the domestic level and in FTAs. The "Annual Report on Notifications and Other Information Flows" circulated earlier by the Secretariat provided a Member-by-Member overview of notifications in this area. He invited delegations to take a look at Table A.9 to determine whether they should submit initial responses to the GI checklist or whether their previous responses might merit updating. He noted that the eTRIPS Submission System provided an easy and convenient online tool for drafting and submitting responses to the Checklist.
48. In line with the Council's recommendation made in March 2010, the Chair also invited Members to share information regarding GI chapters in their bilateral agreements.
49. The representatives of the European Union; and Sri Lanka took the floor.
50. The Council took note of the information provided and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/104/Add.1, IP/C/M/104/Rev.1, IP/C/M104