The Rooibos industry in South Africa recently celebrated a victory over the use of the name in products when the ingredient received geographical indication (GI) in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the EPA group of countries within the Southern African Development Community. These include Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
Following the agreement, the EU accepts that only products produced in South Africa can use Rooibos as a trade name. ‘This constitutes a big concession in principal to the EU,’ explained the minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies, after negotiations concluded on the EPA.
The agreement marks a milestone in achieving international protection for the iconic plant and preventing misuse of the generic name.
In all a short list of 251 EU geographical indications (GIs) in South Africa and 105 South Africa GIs in the EU will be protected. Each side’s GIs will benefit from high-level protection while allowing coexistence for already registered trademarks.
Dacian Cioloş from the European commission for agriculture and rural development comments: ‘This agreement secures mutually beneficial preferential economic relations between the two parties. The elimination of all EU agricultural export refunds as part of this agreement demonstrates Europe’s clear commitment to full coherence between our agricultural and development policies. I also welcome our agreement on GIs as these are a key tool to protect the know-how of farmers and develop added value in quality agricultural products.’
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Amrum