SA's Rooibos Tea gains protection under EU deal

Cape Town - South Africa's renowned Rooibos Tea has secured geographic indicator status in a pact with the European Union (EU), Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Friday.

"Geographical Indications (GIs) are recognition that the use of a particular name, which is usually derived from some place name, that this is exclusively for producers who come from that area," the minister told a media briefing at Parliament in Cape Town.

South Africa signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU where exports have increased from R151bn in 2011 to R216bn in 2015.

The EPA, which was also signed by Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland, will replace the trade chapter in the bilateral agreement between the EU and South Africa, the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) signed in the year 2000.  

This deal will provide improved market access opportunities for South African products, including a significant improvement in quota for wine and new market access for sugar and ethanol.

"We have secured recognition of 105 South African Geographical Indications and these are mostly the names of alcoholic liquors, but there are also three important other products. One of them is Rooibos Tea, Honeybush Tea and Karoo Lamb."

Davies said there is also provision for South Africa to add 30 other names in the future.

In turn, South Africa now recognises 251 European GIs, which include alcoholic drinks and a few food products.

Davies said most of these names are not in use by producers in South Africa, except for Feta Cheese.

"The arrangement there is that existing users of the name Feta Cheese will be allowed to continue to use that but new entrants would have to seek the approval of the European authorities."


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