Protection of Geographical Indications in EU and Georgia
David Gabunia – Expert, EU Delegation – ENPARD-Georgia
The article is dedicated to the problems of protection of geographical indications, it gives a survey of the actions related thereto being carried out in Georgia and their importance for our
country in the context of the European integration. The agricultural sector’s development and ensuring competitiveness of its products in Georgia require the formation and effective use in this sphere of the instruments that would foster in the country production of diverse, quality products, enhance their recognizability and market penetration. One of the effective means for achieving this objective globally has been considered a system of geographical indications, its development and perfect functioning. The chracteristics of a product, production know how and the experience associated with consumption tend to accumulate in the course of time in the name of a unique good/product, rendering to it high reputation and becoming a valuable intangible asset. If this asset is associated with the origin of the product, then it is recognized by using the geographical indication in respect to this product. Currently, up to ten thousand of geographical indications
are known in the world, the total worth of which makes USD 50 billion. The major percentage (90%) of geographical indications falls on the OECD countries, primarily on such European countries (e.g., France, Italy, Spain, etc.), which possess particularly favorable natural and climatic conditions and the rich and centuries-old knowledge and traditions necessary for quality and diverse agricultural and food production. Today, a single registration system of geographical indications exists in the European Union, which occupies leading positions in the domain of protection of geographical indications, and where over three thousand agricultural products, wines and spirits have been protected. The dual nature of geographical indications (intellectual property and voluntary standard) makes it possible to protect the producer from unfair competition on the one hand and to create conditions for making products of high quality and possessing special properties on the other. The positive, economic, social and environmental aspects of geographical indications have been universally recognized. A special mention should be made of the role of geographical indications in the country’s regional development – their protection promotes the making of new jobs and growth of income; reduces labor outflow and, on the contrary, stimulates the attraction of labor, enhances the region’s recognizability and facilitates the development of agro-tourism. The system of geographical indications started to form in the end of the last century. Today, 35 products of national production have been protected (wines, mineral waters, cheese, etc.). Georgia is party to a number of international and bilateral agreements in this sphere (including with the European Union). At present, the work on the protection of geographical indications of other agricultural products is going within the framework of the ENPARD programme, aimed at direct involving associations of local farmers, producers and other participants of the production chain in the process of management. Great importance will be given to the establishment of a hierarchic system to control compliance of geographic indications with specifications/standards.