.The World Trade Organisation (WTO) 5th Global Aid for Trade is to be held in Geneva from July 1 – 4, 2015. Sarada M. De Silva, who is the President of the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE), Chairman of the Ceylon Cinnamon Association (which consists of producers, processors, harvesters and exporters) and Founder Chairman of the Spice Council, has been invited to address the side event No. 12 related to the Global Aid for Trade event on ‘Geographical Indications (GI)’, on ‘GI as a vector of development and a warranty of quality in International Trade’.
This is not the first instance De Silva has been invited to address the Global Aid for Trade events. At the event held in 2013 he addressed the UNIDO session at the event on ‘Ceylon cinnamon’ and at the WTO Standards, Trade, Development, and Facilitation (STDF) session on Phytosanitary issues related to Ceylon cinnamon.
It is pertinent to note that Sri Lanka does not have to date a single GI which is registered overseas. In this regard, De Silva has been lobbying for the registration of Ceylon cinnamon in the National Intellectual Property Law of Sri Lanka since the 1990s. During this period he has been working with Dr. D. M. Karunaratne, Director General of the National Intellectual Property Office in Sri Lanka and Gothami Indikadahena, Director Department of Commerce. Due to the efforts of De Silva, Ceylon cinnamon, Ceylon tea and the Ceylon blue sapphire have been incorporated in the local National Intellectual Property Law as a protection for GI.
Unfortunately, the local Intellectual Property Law of Sri Lanka does not have a separate section for the protection of GI, nor a register of GI. After extensive lobbying, to correct this situation and latterly with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka and G.R. Ranawaka, Current Director General of the National Intellectual Property Office and the Legal Advisory committee to NIPO a cabinet memorandum has been submitted by the Ministry of Industry of Commerce for the purpose.
The benefits that will accrue to Sri Lanka from the overseas registration of GI of Ceylon Cinnamon are as follows: As a differentiation factor between cassia and cinnamon, a higher level of protection than a certification or trade mark, growth of market share, as a tool for regional promotion, control of production and improvement of quality standards, traceability, improvement of quality, creation of value for local rural communities, ability to be defended anywhere in the world against imitations or adulteration, adds value to the originality of the producers, sustainable production.
It is also pertinent to note that Nimal Karunatilake, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the WTO, and senior representatives at the WIPO, are assisting Sri Lanka to prepare the technical dossier along with the Department of Commerce, EDB and cinnamon stakeholders to obtain a GI for Ceylon cinnamon. It is with appreciation that we recognize the efforts of the UNIDO -WTO/STDF- FAO- TSC Cinnamon project for all the assistance given to enhance the cinnamon industry.