Colombo 4th, May 2011–Sri Lanka Tea Board, the apex body looking after the interests of Sri Lanka’s 1.5 billion dollar tea trade, ceremonially launched the new logo of Sri Lanka’s Ozone friendly Ceylon Tea together with Ceylon Tea name as well as Agro-climatic regional names/logos as certification marks under geographical indications to protect and add value to premium Ceylon Tea on a global scale.
Ceylon Tea fetches a premium in the global arena due to its unique flavour, colour and character which is difficult to substitute. The worldwide demand and popularity for “Ceylon Tea” has made it a truly global brand. Since the inception of the Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board in the early 60/70s, the country has spent substantial funds to promote “Ceylon Tea” in important tea consuming countries. Due to the premium price received regularly for “Ceylon Tea”, overseas packers frequently misuse the name by packing other origin teas as “Ceylon Tea”.
Therefore, Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) decided to protect the “Ceylon Tea” name as well as seven major Regional Tea growing area names as Certification Marks under Geographical Indications of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) within the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This important initiative would help to prevent counterfeiting and misuse of the word “Ceylon Tea” as well as other regional names of tea growing areas/logos, deliver an authentic product to the consumer and achieve international status/protection similar to international GIs’ such as “Blue Mountain” coffee or “Basmati” rice.
“We firmly believe that this exercise will greatly enhance the value of Ceylon Tea and other Speciality Teas produced in the seven agro-climatic tea growing regions” said Hasitha De Alwis, Director-Promotion of Sri Lanka Tea Board. “We are confident that Sri Lanka could capitalize on these important aspects in order to further strengthen and consolidate the position of Ceylon Tea in the international market” he further added.
According to the TRIPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), member countries are required to protect Geographical Indications against false or misleading usage as well as any use that constitutes an act of unfair competition. Geographical Indications identify goods or products which originate in the territory of a member state or a region or locality, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the goods or product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Geographical Indications add value to products in addition to protection granted under the WTO Agreement.
As a preliminary measure, Sri Lanka Tea Board, in consultation with the tea industry stake-holders, finalized the demarcation of tea factories under each Agro-climatic region. Suitable descriptive narrations for protection of “Ceylon Tea” and other seven regional teas were formulated thereafter. Also, the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers was obtained for Sri Lanka Tea Board to register “Ceylon Tea” and the names of the seven tea growing area under Geographical Indication/Certification mark in Sri Lanka and other foreign countries on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka.
The protection of a registration under Geographical Indications for a particular product in the home country is a pre-requisite prior to applying for international registration. Sri Lanka Tea Board has just concluded the local registration of the name “Ceylon Tea” and the main seven tea growing regions (Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Uva, Udapussella, Kandy, Ruhuna & Sabaragamuwa) as certification marks under Geographical Indications. SLTB is now initiating action to apply for international registration for the said Geographical Indications in 50 target markets during 2011 & 2012 with funding support from the Ministry of Industry & Commerce.
Besides above, SLTB has completed the registration of the Ozone Friendly Pure Ceylon Tea logo in Sri Lanka.
Methyl Bromide (MeBr), which is an aggressive Ozone Depletion Substance (ODS), was used in Sri Lanka extensively in pest management in Agriculture, Warehousing and Quarantine in pre-shipment purposes. Under the Montreal Protocol, Sri Lanka implemented two projects to phase out Methyl Bromide usage for non quarantine and pre-shipment purposes. The project on the tea sector was successfully completed in 2006, and instead of the use of Methyl Bromide, environment friendly technologies were adopted in the tea sector. As a result of this effort, Sri Lanka received the Montreal Protocol Implementers Award in 2007 for successful implementation of its project in the tea sector.
Sri Lanka is the first country in the world to be recognized as a producer of Ozone friendly tea. In order to capitalize on this significant achievement, Sri Lanka Tea Board together with the National Ozone unit of the Ministry of Environment, Tea Research Institute and Tea Traders Association jointly organized an awareness program for members of tea trade in Sri Lanka. Plans are underway for Sri Lanka Tea Board to register the Ozone Friendly Ceylon Tea logo in 30 tea importing countries during 2011-2012 as part of this strategic initiative.
Ozone Logo Registration