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32 countries add Kampot pepper to GI registries

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A farmer holds harvested peppercorns at a plantation in Kampot province. KPPA

32 countries add Kampot pepper to GI registries

The Ministry of Commerce on December 15 said an additional 32 countries had added Kampot pepper to their international geographical indication (GI) registries.

This comes after the tireless efforts of the government and relevant stakeholders to expand the market for the Kingdom’s coveted piquant fruit.

On October 21, minister Pan Sorasak initiated the GI trademark registration process for “Kampot Pepper” in the countries, as allowed by the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications, the ministry said.

According to the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the act went into force on February 26 and allows the international registration of GIs and appellations of origins “through a single registration procedure with WIPO”.

The ministry said Kampot pepper will be legally protected from unauthorised use by third parties and any violation of the GI trademark in the signatory countries.

It said: “This joint partnership with Cambodia embodies the evolution of its integration into the international system, with the worldwide protection offered by the 32 signatory countries.”

Ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat told The Post that Cambodia could apply for the international registration of GIs through a one-time application, which would guarantee that they are protected against usurpation, the unauthorised use, imitation or the general malicious intention to take undue advantage of their brands.

He noted that the specific geographical location or origin associated with the GI designation could become more flexible in the future.

This, he said would be a boon for Kampot pepper producers, processors and packagers outside the region, provided that they maintain an acceptable level of quality.

“International protection registration will help expand the international market for Kampot pepper, especially in the 32 countries,” Sovicheat said.

Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA) president Nguon Lay said the crop has gained GI protection from more than 50 countries, including those in the EU.

“Kampot pepper will enjoy an enhanced reputation and will also have a safeguard in place to prevent brand fraud on the international market,” he said.

Thoeun Techmeng, an official with Confirel Co Ltd, said the added GI recognition would make it easier for his company to export Kampot pepper to the 32 countries.

“This shows that Kampot pepper will be more recognised for its quality by more and more countries, which will serve to facilitate our exports,” he said.

According to Sovicheat, the ministry is working to register more collective trademarks, including “Ambok Kampong Thom”, or cooked rice that is fried dry and pounded by mortar and pestle. It is characteristically eaten during the Kingdom’s Water Festival.

He said the ministry is also preparing to register “Nom Banh Chok Siem Reap” (a local variety of rice noodle), the silver-copper sculpting typical of Kampong Luong and Koh Chin communes in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, Kampong Chhnang province-style pottery, as well as steamed balut from Sre Ronong commune in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district.

It is also implementing the Geographical Indication Registration Project of Kampot salt and “fleur de sel” (flower of salt) and Mondulkiri Forest Honey with the cooperation and support of the WIPO and the GI Regional Project 2021-2023, which may push for international registration to expand new markets for those products as well.

“Fleur de sel” is a type of salt mainly associated with the northern coast France that forms as a delicate, flaky crust on the surface of seawater.

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