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GI law implementation delay impedes Sri Lanka cinnamon exports

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): The prolonged delay in implementing a Geographical Indication (GI) law in Sri Lanka has emerged as a significant roadblock in registering local GI products including cinnamon, thereby impeding their access to the associated benefits within export value chains.

The current cinnamon production capacity of 21,000Mt, with export quantity of 19,000Mt, has the potential for expansion up to 25,000 – 30,000Mt a year.

Sri Lanka has received Geographical Indication (GI) certification from the European Union for Ceylon Cinnamon helping it to stand out from substitutes in the trade block, the Export Development Board said.

GI registration can be used to differentiate Sri Lankan Cinnamon from others has in the EU markets. ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ can also be sold for premium prices.

Despite receiving Cabinet approval to formalise it into law, spices and allied products, exporters pointed out that procedural slowness within the Trade and Commerce Ministry and Department of Commerce has thwarted the timely dispatch of the value-added initial batch of cinnamon slated for EU markets.

The issue was brought up at the recently held 23rd Exporters Forum organised by the Export Development Board.

In February 2022, Ceylon Cinnamon secured the country’s first Geographical Indication (GI) certification and status from the European Union (EU) Commission.

“GI registration has the purpose of differentiating Ceylon Cinnamon in the EU market from its substitutes of lower quality.

GI will act as a source of competitive advantage which will help to increase market differentiation, product turnover and allow for a premium price from the consumer,” SAPPTA past Chairman Vernon Abeyratne said.

He said as part of obtaining the GI status, the Ceylon Cinnamon GI Association (CCGIA) was established representing all the stakeholders in the cinnamon industry in the country.

The responsibility of the CCGIA is to implement an internal control mechanism to monitor their members meeting the specifications stated in the GI specification document.

The participants within the cinnamon supply chain need to be registered with the CCGIA to export Ceylon Cinnamon to the EU region under the ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ brand.

Noting that Sri Lanka’s spices and essential oil exports were $ 370.3 million in 2022, Abeyratne stated that GI-certified cinnamon exports were initially expected to account for around 1% of this total in the current year.

“Regrettably, the delay in implementing GI certification has practically neutralised this prediction, resulting in an expected loss for the sector he said

GI certification not only confers legal protection but also adds significant value to the products, enhancing the competitiveness and marketability,” he pointed out.

During the first nine months, Sri Lanka earned $ 302.68 million via spices and essential oil exports recording 9.97% year-on-year growth compared to the same period in 2022.

State Minister of Investment Promotion Dilum Amunugama assured swift action in formalising the GI law.

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