The Ministry of Commerce is pressing on to register some of the Kingdom’s more renown products as collective trademarks and grant them domestic geographical indication (GI) to provide them with added exposure on the international market.
Minister Pan Sorasak said this at a January 25 meeting with officials from the Oddar Meanchey provincial Department of Commerce and local bureaus of the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (Camcontrol).
He said the ministry is working on the GI registration of Kampot salt and “fleur de sel” (flower of salt), Pursat oranges and Mondulkiri wild honey.
“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.
According to Sorasak, 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.
Thaung Thyda, managing director of Kampot-Kep salt processing firm Thaung Trading Co Ltd, told The Post that salt from Kampot and Kep provinces would have a better reputation in the international arena if the Kingdom were to register it as a GI product.
She said the salt processed by her company has garnered much support on the Japanese, Swiss, Canadian, UK and Czech markets.
“This augurs quite well for the salt industry in Cambodia, Kampot-Kep salt above all, which stands to gain recognition in international markets for its quality and reputation. This’ll help boost the market for salt products on the international stage, too,” Thyda said.
Ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat previously 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 said cooperation and support from Switzerland-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the GI Regional Project 2021-2023 in the GI registration process would push international registration and expand new markets for the products as well.
Kampot provincial Department of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation director Sok Kim Choeun said favourable climatic factors boosted salt production in his province to about 84,000 tonnes last year.
He said salt last year cost between 8,000 and 12,000 riel ($2 and $3) per 50kg sack. “We won’t face a shortage of salt and will be able to provide enough for domestic demand,” he said, referring to 2019’s shortages.
Salt production in Kampot and Kep covered 4,748ha last year and employed 5,000 workers. With suitable weather conditions, each hectare can yield 20 tonnes of salt per annum, according to the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation.