Building Geographical Indications for the Caribbean’s Origin-Linked Products

Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export)
Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export)

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) opened the two-day sub-regional workshop on branding and the use of geographical indications in the development of management strategies for origin-linked products at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingstown, Jamaica on July 21st.  With the aim of building the capacity of CARIFORUM producers to identify and develop geographical indications and origin linked products, it is hoped that attending businesses will prosper and enhance their competitiveness in the international arena, and as a result build economic growth and sustainability of the Caribbean region.

The Hon. Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce for Jamaica highlighted in his address to the participants that “Within the Caribbean exist numerous opportunities for GI protection including  black pineapple from Antigua, cascarilla from the Bahamas, cahune oil from Belize, nutmeg from Grenada and sarsaparilla from St. Kitts just to name a few. Geographical Indications offer us the opportunity to protect these brands and our consumers, even as we continue to guarantee quality and provenance.”

Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in her welcome remarks expressed, “We recognise that the environment in which the region’s private sector operates is ever changing and key areas such as Intellectual Property Rights have emerged which require us to pay attention”.

Geographical Indications (GIs) is a form of Intellectual Property Rights given to goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin.  Research has shown that a product with a protected “Destination of Origin” may attract a premium price of as much as 40% higher than that of a similar product without a GI classification.

Mrs. Coke-Hamilton indicated that the power of GIs for the region has significant implications for ‘Brand Caribbean’ as we continue to seek new markets for our goods and to further penetrate existing markets.  “When we speak about Brand Caribbean, we speak about the need to set the Caribbean apart from other regions, to distinguish our products on shelves flooded by products from Asia or elsewhere and to ensure that the world knows that high quality is not some elusive concept achievable only by first world producers”.  She gave the example of the reputation of the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee which is one of the most expensive and highly sought-after coffees in the world.

Echoing these sentiments Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of Delegation for the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands expressed that “The European Union is convinced of the untapped potential that Geographical Indications have for the Caribbean’s economic development.”  In addition she reiterated “Without access to geographical indications protection tailored to their circumstances and needs, few producers of origin-linked products can benefit from their rights.”

There are many challenges that Caribbean countries face when dealing with GIs and IPs as a whole, these include the lack of knowledge of what constitutes IP and the value this property represents to individual firms; the lack of knowledge of IP laws and insufficient awareness of the work of local intellectual property offices in protecting IP; government agencies which work on IP are understaffed and in many situations, persons at these agencies have multiple portfolios; and the high cost attached to registering IP is considered a deterrent by SMEs in the Region.

To overcome these challenges, Mrs. Coke-Hamilton suggests that firstly we need to make IP capacity building, of firms and the BSOs at the local level, a priority; secondly, the region needs a structured, specialised programme through which relevant firms can be trained in IP; thirdly, there is a need to work with financial institutions to recognise the value of IP, so that they make it possible for the private sector to leverage their IP as collateral when seeking financial assistance and lastly, there is a need to develop and share case studies within the region.

“I do not think that we need to be convinced of the value of GIs and OLPs for our products. What is needed is a commitment on our end to complete the work that has already started in developing GIs for various products such as our Jamaica jerk, cocoa, nutmeg and pineapples”, stressed Mrs. Coke-Hamilton.

The workshop was hosted by the Caribbean Export in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica (the Jamaican Intellectual property Office), the Office of Trade Negotiations of the CARICOM Secretariat, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the REACH Programme of the Inter-American Development Bank in Kingstown, Jamaica from 21st – 22nd July.

Expression of Interest: Participate in the 2015 edition of the HAVANA INTERNATIONAL FAIR (FIHAV)

Caribbean Export would like to invite interested CARIFORUM firms to submit applications to participate in the 2015 edition of the Havana International Fair (FIHAV) 2015 in Havana, Cuba from November 2nd to 8th 2015.

FIHAV is the most important general trade fair in Cuba. This year will be the 32nd year that show has been convened.  All sectors of the Cuban economy takes part in this event, which succeeds in putting together the most complete national and international trade exhibition in a space that enables exhibitors and visitors to establish commercial contacts, close business operations, exchange experiences and update in new technological developments.

FIHAV features more than 20,000 square meters of net exhibition area, around 4,500 national and foreign exhibitors from over 60 countries. This year it is expected that over 150,000 visitors including important foreign official and business delegations will be attending the fair. With the strides that Cuba has made in opening its trade doors to the entire world, the potential for doing business with Cuba is stronger than ever.

Caribbean Export will sponsor representatives from CARIFORUM firms in the following sectors to participate in the 2015 edition:

  • Cosmetics and Beauty products
  • Plastics
  • Sauces and Condiments
  • Cereals
  • Beverages

Sponsorship will include:

  • Booth rental and design
  • Promotional material for the booth
  • Return airfare to Cuba for one representative of participating company from their country of origin
  • Matchmaking meetings with the major buyers in Cuba

Participants are expected to cover all additional expenses including accommodations, shipping of samples, meals and ground transport to and from Fair grounds.

Interested persons must submit the online Expression of Interest no later than July 22, 2015 at 4:30pm Barbados Time

All participation is subject to approval from Caribbean Export.

Please direct any queries to

Congratulations to Hot Mama’s Belize

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EXPORTBelize, BELTRAIDE congratulates Hot Mama’s Belize for its participation in Mr. Densil Williams’s case study.The study entitled Competing against Multinationals in Emerging Markets draws on efficiency theory, portfolio theory and market structure theory as the lens through which to explain business survival/ failure. By using those theoretical insights along with case studies the book provides a comprehensive set of lessons which successful small firms have adopted in order to survive and prosper in an increasingly hostile competitive manufacturing sector where large firms are mostly dominant. Drawing lessons about competing in a highly competitive sector, the book uses the of narrative in social research to inform conclusions about factors which lead to survival and prosperity.

The Book is available on Amazon:

Bella Dees- “Offering multi-purpose natural, handmade products”


belladeesBella Dees is a home-based business that produces multi-purpose natural, handmade, aroma therapeutic soaps, madebelladees2 with 8 vegetable oils and fresh Belizean healing herbs. In addition to soaps, the business makes aroma therapeutic massage oils. It guarantees to provide a 100% natural, healing and aromatherapy benefits, safe for the skin; gentle for the entire family and pets; easy on the environment, and no animal testing. Experience the benefits of aroma-therapy in a practical way. Their unique formulas leave no residue on the skin. The oils used are chosen based on the special qualities they bring to the soap such as the ability to moisturize and soften skin and the type of lather they produce. Since all the soaps use only natural products and retain all the glycerine produced during the saponification process, they have a softer, creamier consistency than regular commercial, synthetic soaps.

So yummy, you may never want to leave the tub again!

Dona Dougall-Sosa is the Owner/Manager, and is a Lab Technician who possesses 23 years of experience in the field, and who has 5 years’ experience in soap making. She is assisted by her husband, Mr. Orlando Sosa, who has 7 years’ experience in Website Administration/Desktop publishing, and Laurent Obando –Dougall, who assists in the Marketing by sharing his 9 years’ experience in freelance photography and 4 years in videography. Ms. Dona Dougall approached SBDCBelize through referral of a friend, who had heard of the services provided by the Centre. She became a client on November 9th, 2012. Since then she has been provided with assistance in areas of financing, marketing, and marketing research by advisers of SBDCBelize.

As a client of the Centre, she was also invited to participate in the Regional Entrepreneurship Project “Integral Development of Entrepreneurship in Central America and Dominican Republic”, and as participant of such, participated in two modular trainings (3 days each) focusing on Market research, problem identification, value proposition, and product validation through the use of Lean Canvas Model and other tools. Through the advising, and assistance of SBDCBelize, Dona Dougall was successful in obtaining a grant as seed capital from the Entrepreneurship Project, which she is investing in her business, and which has assisted in increasing market share.

Some of the business places from where her products can be bought are: • Back to my Roots in San Ignacio • Paws Vet Clinic San Ignacio • Xunan Gifts in Succotz (at Xunantunich) • Pet World in Belmopan • Placencia producers Co-op • Sangri-La Spa and Gift Shop in San Pedro.

Ms. Dona is thankful to SBDCBelize for the assistance and is looking forward in working to grow and sustain a successful business venture.

Contact Bella Dees today! Bella Dees 25 New Haven Street, Hillview, Santa Elena, Cayo District Tel: +501-824-2822 M: +501-602-5621 W:

“SBDCBelize assisted me in creating increased customer awareness, resulting in increased sales,” Dona Sosa-Dougall Owner, Bella Dees

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