Perspectives

Last month, the Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP), the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, led a delegation on a study mission to Italy to benchmark best practices in Geographical Indication (GI) protection, control and promotion and promote cooperation, with support from ARISE+ Indonesia, 17-28 September 2022. The delegation, led by the Director of Trademarks and Geographical Indications, Mr Kurniaman Telaumbanua, comprised officials from the DGIP, the Directorate General of National Export Development, the Ministry of Trade, and representatives of the Indonesian Cocoa Board and the Berau Cacao Geographical Indication Protection Communities (MPIG Kakao Berau). The Director of the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre and Indonesian Trade Attaché for Italy also joined some of the meetings.

Best practices learned from the study mission will inform the process of strengthening and implementing the National GI Control System (NGICS) in Indonesia.

We had the honour to discuss with Mr Kurniaman on the key takeaways of the study mission and the way forward to advance Indonesian Geographical Indications.

The following is the excerpt from our interview.

 

Q: Could you please briefly tell us about the role and objectives of DGIP concerning the protection of Indonesian Geographical Indications?

A: Based on the Regulation of the Minister of Law and Human Rights Number 29 of the Year 2015 concerning the Organisation and Working Procedures of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia, Article 761, the duty of Directorate of Trademarks and Geographical Indications is to prepare, formulate and implement policy, provide technical guidance and supervision, as well as to i evaluate and report the application, trademark classification, publication and documentation, inspection, certification, monitoring, and to provide legal services for trademarks and geographical indications as well as for the facilitation of brand appeal commissions.

Then in Article 776, it is stated that the Sub-Directorate of Geographical Indications carries out the administration of formality inspections, technical services and the administration of substantive examination of applications for Geographical Indications, as well as the publication and documentation, monitoring and supervision of registered Geographical Indications.

Article 777 further provides that to carry out the tasks referred to in Article 776, the Sub-Directorate of Geographical Indications carries out the following functions: 

  1. Implementation of the administration of the examination of the formality of the application for geographical indications;
  2. Implementation of technical services and administration of substantive examination of applications for registration of geographical indications; and 
  3. Facilitation of the implementation of monitoring and supervision, as well as preparation of publication materials and documentation of registered Geographical Indications.

From the regulation I quoted above, it is clear that the primary duties and functions of the Directorate of Trademarks and Geographical Indications merely concern the registration process of Geographical Indications. 

 

Q: You recently led a DGIP delegation to Italy to study how Geographical Indications are protected and promoted. What is your view on the main takeaway points of the study mission?

A: Choosing Italy as the study venue was the right decision, considering that Italy is the country with the largest Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in European Union, with 879 GI products out of a total of 3310 GI products registered in the territory. 

During the ten days of the mission, we had a full schedule, visited four regions and met with various stakeholders of Geographical Indications in Italy, including government institutions, the private sector, producers, and GI associations.

The study mission provided us with a comprehensive understanding of the best practices of the GI control and protection system, including registration, quality control, market surveillance, product development, promotion, branding and marketing.

We see that Italy is one of the EU countries with the best Geographical Indication management at government institutions, private institutions, producers, and other stakeholders involved. The stakeholders also have a strong synergy and cooperation among them.  

We met and discussed with the Italian Central Inspectorate for Quality Safeguarding and Anti-fraud of Foodstuffs and Agricultural Products (ICQRF) , the law enforcement body under the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Foodstuff and Forestry Policies, which plays a central role in quality protection and fraud repression of agri-food products, including GI products, through actions to prevent and combat offences. It operates throughout Italy and is one of the largest European agri-food control bodies. We learned the best practices of the GI control system during the discussion with ICQRF. 

Then we met with oriGIn Italia, the Italian GIs Association, a member of oriGIn international, and Qualivita Foundation, a non-profit organisation established to enhance and protect the quality of European food production and recognised by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Foodstuff and Forestry Policies. 

Italy has a solid national GI association (oriGIn Italia), representing 95% of the Italian GI productions and is recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Foodstuff and Forestry Policies. oriGIn proactively represents the interests of its members, promotes GI products and seeks cooperation with the private sector. They successfully collaborated with one of the leading international fast-food chains, which resulted in the purchase of GI-certified products from oriGIn's members. Co-marketing activities supported the collaboration, where oriGIn provided communication guidance to promote geographical indications to fast-food consumers.

This is an excellent example of the solid synergy of all GI stakeholders in promoting and protecting geographical indications. The Geographical Indication association (known as consortium in Italy and Geographical Indication Protection Society (MPIG) in Indonesia) maintains product tradition and quality and carries out promotions and marketing; local governments and the central government establish institutions and mechanisms to protect the GIs.

Then we went to Modica on Sicily island to meet with the Cioccolato di Modica Consortium and visit two GI-certified speciality chocolate processors. We were welcomed by the President of the Modica City Council, Madame Carmela Minioto and the members of the Consorzia led by the President of Consorzio Cioccolato di Modica, Mr Salvatore Perluso, and the Director, Mr Nino Scivoletto.

One of the important highlights of our study mission was the meeting with the Cioccolato di Modica Consortium, which laid the foundations for international cooperation between the Consortium for the protection of Modica IGP Chocolate and the Indonesian Kakao Berau GI protection association. The partnership initiation is marked with the production of a special batch of chocolate bars for a lovely giveaway to selected G-20 Summit guests in honour of the Indonesian Presidency of the G20. Currently, Kakao Berau and Cioccolato di Modica IGP are the only GI cocoa and PGI Chocolate in Indonesia and Europe. This innovative partnership combining a European PGI product made from GI ingredients would boost the cocoa sector immensely and encourage producer communities to register as GI and seek similar linkages with European GI products. 

Another interesting experience was visiting a vocational culinary school in Modica that taught traditional techniques to produce Cioccolato di Modica PGI. School graduates are in high demand and sought by companies even before the students graduate. This will ensure the regeneration of chocolate makers that understand the quality, reputation and characteristics of Cioccolato di Modica PGI, thereby ensuring the sustainability of Cioccolato di Modica. 

This is something that we can adopt in Indonesia to ignite and inspire the youth to preserve the tradition. We need to sustain our rich and diverse traditional cultures and crafts. And some are already GI-certified, namely traditional woven fabric from Sikka, East Nusa Tenggara and batik from Jogja. I am afraid that if we don't do this, we will lose our GIs one by one.

We also learned about how GI chocolate contributes to tourism and boosts the local economy. It was good that our colleague, the Director of Manufacture Export Development at the Ministry of Trade (now the Deputy for Marketing at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy), Ibu Made, took part in this study mission since this would be within her purview.

Another important highlight of this study mission was the audit certificate award to Bali Amed Salt and Kulon Progo Jogja Coconut Sugar. In November last year, both GI associations undertook an external audit conducted by CSQA, an international certification and inspection company established in Italy. This certificate ascertains that Bali Amed Salt and Kulon Progo Coconut Sugar have fulfilled quality assurance requirements as specified in the Description Document and comply with international quality standards. Bali Amed Salt has just been registered and recognised as Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in the European Union (published in the Official Journal of European Union).

 

Q: What would be the way forward to bring Indonesian GIs to an internationally recognised level?

A: We can see that Italy already has a robust GI control system, well-established national GI associations (oriGIn Italia and Qualivita), solid GI protection consortia (ed: like MPIG in Indonesia), and strong synergy among the stakeholders. 

In Indonesia, we have different situations and conditions. To advance Indonesian GIs, we have to undertake institutional and regulatory reforms. We propose several recommendations to our leadership based on the lessons we gathered from the study mission. 

Ideally, there should be a specially appointed body/institution/agency that would comprehensively manage GIs and draft a new law that exclusively regulates Geographical Indications. In current Law No 20 of 2016, geographical indications are part of trademarks, and the articles mainly govern the registration. Many other aspects of GI governance have yet to be regulated.

However, pursuing this option may take a long time because it requires a political decision.

So what can we do with the existing institutions, regulations and resources? 

As I mentioned earlier, the DGIP's main duties, tasks and functions are limited to GI registration only. Therefore, we need to build cross-ministerial/agencies synergy and coordination to strengthen GI protection, market surveillance, quality control, marketing, and promotion. 

The relevant stakeholders may include the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Ministry of Industry, BPOM (National Agency for Food and Drugs Control), BSN (National Standardization Agency of Indonesia), Ministry of Cooperative and MSMEs, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, and Ministry of Agriculture. I also propose to involve the Ministry of Home Affairs to encourage and strengthen contributions and support from the regional governments in the current context of regional autonomy. Support and contributions from the local governments as the advisor of GIs in their respective areas are essential. Regional governments play a strategic role in facilitating GI strengthening and enhancement. We will propose and encourage the regional governments through our provincial offices to enact Regional Regulations (Perda) governing geographical indications and pledge the budget for GI development and enhancement. To date, only Bangka Belitung Province has passed the regional regulation governing the GI-certified Muntok White Pepper.

Cross-ministerial cooperation could be in the form of task force establishment, joint programs and budget sharing. It could be enforced with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or Ministerial Joint Decree. The coordinating ministry may carry out the coordinating role of the task force.

However, we must realise that cross-ministerial coordination is a challenging task. It is easier said than done. 

DGIP will continuously conduct socialisation and dissemination of the benefits and importance of GI to all relevant stakeholders to facilitate synergy and collaboration. GI is still a new concept in Indonesia, so it's only natural that many still need to become familiar. In Indonesia, the first GI registration was only in 2008, namely Kintamani Arabica Coffee. In Europe, the GI concept was already around for a hundred years.

 

Q: What would be the most feasible step to start, and how optimistic are you in achieving the reforms to advance Indonesian GIs?

A: This will not be an easy task, but we have to do this. Otherwise, our GIs will stagnate or, even worse, regress. We have to start somewhere and be optimistic for the community's welfare. I am confident that we can achieve synergy and collaboration once the stakeholders understand the importance and benefits of GI for local economic growth. I am a proud GI advocate because I see how GI could benefit the local communities economically. In the Directorate of Trademarks and Geographical Indication, we have started with rebranding the national GI logo into red and white to ignite our nationalism and make it more visible and recognisable as the Indonesian flag colour. We have prepared technical and implementation guidelines and simplified the registration process without degrading the substantive components as per DG directives. Next year, we can start  building communication with directors in the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Cooperative and MSMEs, and Ministry of Home Affairs to devise the strategy for GI enhancement, protection, control, and promotion.

 

Q: Were there any potential partnerships to be built in the future between Indonesia and Italy to enhance the development of Indonesian Geographical Indications?

A: Future cooperation between Indonesia and Italy needs to be explored in terms of establishing an external control body for GIs in Indonesia by following the example of the existing bodies in Italy.

Following the footsteps of Kakao Berau and Cioccolato di Modica, we need to foster partnerships between Indonesian GI-certified coffee and Italian companies.

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