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Interview with Mr Jerome Pons, Head of Operations, European Union Delegation to Thailand

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

 

The Head of Operations of the European Union Delegation to Thailand visited the IPC-EUI stand, which displayed 10 selected Indian Geographical Indication (GI) products. The IPC-EUI project is funded by the European Union (EU) and it is implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in cooperation with the Controller General for Patens, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM). The action took place within the project’s adopted Annual Work Plan 2016 and it produced a number of side activities, such as, e.g., 3 videos on 3 Indian GIs and 1 promotional video on Indian GIs, a number of leaflets on GI protection and GI-related topics in India and a booklet on Indian GIs.

Mr Pons also visited the stand of the Department of Intellectual Property of Thailand (DIP), which was also displaying and promoting Thai GIs.

His visit offered the Project Management Team, representing the project and EUIPO at Thaifex, the unique opportunity to interview him and to offer the point of view of the EU.

Mr Pons, what can you tell us about the EU and ASEAN? And, more specifically the relation between the two regions when it comes to development cooperation.

In 2017, the European Union (EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) celebrate 40 years of a close and fruitful partnership, characterised by shared goals of peace and prosperity. Based on trust, mutual respect, common interests and values, the partnership that started in 1977 has since grown and expanded.  The EU and ASEAN have identified joint priority areas for development and cooperation such as inclusive economic integration, trade, climate change and developing our dialogue in all pertinent areas.  

The EU, by its very nature, is a strong supporter of regional cooperation and economic integration processes. And the EU and ASEAN are certainly some of the two most advanced and successful examples of integration in the world. ASEAN is therefore a key partner in the search for new drivers of regional economic growth.

In that respect, I was pleased to witness the ASEAN support during the Thaifex, reaching out to its members, contributing to disseminate Indian Geographical Indications. And I was proud to see this being supported by an EU funded project implemented by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Promoting linkages among South and South-East Asia region economic operators is fundamental for the promotion of regional cooperation and economic integration.

 

Mr Pons, we understand that GIs are at the heart of the EU. Could you share with us the reasons why GIs and their protection are so important, especially for European producers?

Geographical Indications (GIs) are distinctive signs that identify a product as originating in the territory of a particular country, region or locality where its quality, reputation or other key characteristics are linked to its geographical origin.

The protection of GIs matters economically and culturally. They protect a rich history of high-quality products. By guaranteeing the quality and origin of the products to the consumer, GIs contribute to improved consumer’s loyalty and to increased access to markets for products that are deeply rooted in tradition, culture and geography. In the globalized market, GIs contribute to mitigating the fraudulent use of labels of origin, which badly hurt both producers and consumers.

Over the years, European countries have taken the lead in identifying and protecting their geographical indications (such as Cognac, Parma ham) as a means of protecting culture and tradition. But this is not only protection as, at the same time, this is also generating local added value and jobs. The EU harbours many examples of good practices and know-how to share on how GIs matter economically and culturally, as a means to protect what is unique and valuable at the local and regional level.

 

Mr Pons, you visited Thaifex and more specifically the IPC-EUI stand, which was funded by the European Union. What were your impressions?

As I said, I am proud that our project contributed to the presence of the Indian Ministry of Commerce – Department of Industry and Policy Promotion (DIPP) – and of ten producers of GI products at the Thaifex. This is part of a series of EU supported capacity building initiatives on trade-facilitation supporting Indian institutions and implemented in close cooperation with Indian national stakeholders.

This presence at the Thaifex was an opportunity to showcase how the engagement and technical expertise of the EU, combined with the political will and efforts of the Government of India, can bring added value in support of the Government of India’s “Make in India” strategy.  

But this initiative also meets the interest expressed by the Indian business community to ensure exposure of Indian GIs regionally and internationally. And where best to do this than in Bangkok, the heart of South East Asia and a large and growing market?

It is clear that there is an increasing need for awareness-raising campaigns and more concrete actions to promote GIs.

 

Mr Pons, what lies ahead?

What lies ahead is first and foremost the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals we all committed to in September 2015. The EU will continue to partner with regional groupings and with partner countries to promote the UN Agenda. In the ASEAN, this will include promoting connectivity and cooperating in key development areas such as trade, energy efficiency, water management. Creating jobs and generating growth will remain at the top of the EU’s agenda while implementing its external actions. And in this context, Geographical Indications will contribute to these efforts in their own ways.