Geographical Indications as a Tool of Local Development

Local news, 07.11.2019

The Swiss-Serbian Intellectual Property Project brought together a Swiss-Serbian Forum to discuss the empowerment of local actors through the further development of geographical indications (GI) as a local resource that can contribute to improved quality of life in rural areas.

Swiss-Serbian Forum on the topic of geographical indications
Swiss-Serbian Forum on the topic of geographical indications ©SEEDEV

Worldwide, there are around 8,000 GI-labelled products in the agricultural and food sector alone, of which almost half (3,900) are registered in Europe. The sale of these products in the European Union alone exceeds EUR 55 billion a year which makes 15% of Europe's food and beverage export.

The ajvar from the city of Leskovac, prosciutto from city of Uzice, Zlatar mountain cheese, carpets from city of Pirot, raspberries from municipality Arilje and knitting work from Sirogojno are only some of the authentic food, handicrafts and crafts, whose further development was supported by the Government of Switzerland through its programs in Serbia.

“As tradition and heritage of Serbian gastronomy is equally vital as the Swiss, we have been active with the Swiss-Serbian program in several fields contributing to improve the visibility of GI products, the understanding of the market potential as well as the management of origin-linked quality”, said the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Serbia, Philippe Guex.

Vladan Vasic, a member of the Board of Directors of NALED and the mayor of the city of Pirot, which is famous for its carpets, cheese and sausage, said that besides food, handicrafts can be a valuable resource for local economic development.

Participants used the Forum to discuss the benefits, challenges and lessons learned with respect to GIs. The forum helped participants improve their understanding of constraints and difficulties that institutions and producers face in identifying products, drafting specifications for GIs and processing GIs registration. They in turn can use this knowledge to identify mechanisms and modalities to assist the rural communities and producers to promote their traditional products in the international market while preserving their identity and biodiversity.

Experience from Switzerland and France in regional branding through local products was conveyed by Alain Farine, President of the Swiss Producers Association and Nathalie Vucher, President of the French Geographical Indications Commission.

The Swiss-Serbian forum concluded with a message of support to current efforts in strengthening of geographical indication in Serbia as a tool for promoting territorial development and adding value to products, through specific qualities linked to natural conditions or traditional know-how.

The Government of Switzerland is providing 700,000 EUR in support to the Intellectual Property Project over the period 2017-2021.