Bhutan Local Governance

  Stakeholder Consultation Meeting on the National Geographical Indication (GI) Rules

The Department of Media, Creative Industry and Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment conducted national stakeholders’ consultation on the draft National Geographical Indication (GI) Rules on 14 and 15 March 2024. 

According to a widely adopted international definition, “Geographical Indication” means an indication that identifies a good as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. The Department is working to institute a GI Registration System in the country with the objective of promoting reputed and high-quality Bhutanese products for international recognition and export in niche markets. A prerequisite in international practice for GI products is that they must be first registered in the country of origin before filing for protection and promotion outside the country. Having national GI Rules will enable interested national producers, mainly in the agriculture and craft sectors, to come forward and take advantage of such global marketing tool.

Another fundamental aspect of GI products is that they are subject to control compliance regarding the product’s quality and consistency specified in the corresponding GI specification. Competent Control Bodies (such as BFDA, BSD, Private Entities, etc.) formally recognized by the Department shall periodically perform relevant controls in Bhutan.

Thus far, in collaboration and support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the Department has developed a Draft GI Rules, Control Mechanism and GI Examination Manual. The joint effort of FAO and national GI Task Force members from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock; Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment; Ministry of Health; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade is being sought to identify and register two pilot national GI products to start with.

Representatives from the Department of Agricultural and Marketing Cooperatives, the Department of Livestock, the Bhutan Standard Bureau, the Bhutan Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Thirteen Arts and Crafts (Zorig Chusum), the Royal Textile Academy, the Office of the Attorney General, the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Department of Customs, and the Department of Trade attended the two-day consultation meeting.

Discussions were also held on preliminary list of potential GI products and views were sought on designing of a national GI logo to be ascribed on the products by the GI Registry. The draft Rules on finalization will be submitted to the parent Ministry for further directives and approval.