By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce, this week, held a validation workshop for a proposed Bill to protect the Geographical Indicators of Belizean-made products.
Geographic Indicators (GI) are aspects of a product that are tied to a specific location, such as the ingredients or preparations methods.
The GI’s identify products with their location such as Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica, which has its ingredients harvested from the Blue Mountains under specified conditions.
The workshop, hosted by the Directorate General for Foreign Trade, gave stakeholders a chance to interact with the firm preparing the draft legislation, Marc Francis Ramsay & Company.
Stakeholders such as the Belize Customs and Excise Department, Trade and Investment Services (BELTRAIDE), Toledo Cacao Growers Association, and Belize Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO), got a chance to interact with the firm and learn about the different areas the draft Bill covers. Stakeholders also got a chance to give feedback on necessary modifications to be made.
Marc Ramsay, principal attorney for the firm, explained that the draft is in its third stage and after the workshop, there will be a final draft. He emphasized that passing the GI Bill is important to Belizean products because of the protection it offers internationally.
“In Belize there are many products that qualify (for GI)s, there’s citrus, bananas, cacao,” Ramsay said. “All of these things have things that are specific to Belize, and will prevent people from calling things that are not made in Belize, Belizean.”
Dr. Leroy Almendarez, director general of Foreign Trade, explained that once the draft Bill becomes legislation it will assist the country with employment, creating increased income for local business owners and overall macro economic growth.
The Ministry added that currently Belize is the only country in CARICOM to protect geographical indications as certification marks under its Trademark Act (Chapter 257) and Registered by BELIPO.