Thailand aims to earn $1 billion from unique Thai products

Thailand is seeking to earn over $1 billion a year from the global sales of geographic indication (GI) products – goods certified as uniquely originating in the Kingdom – within five years as the government strives to promote Thai creativity, innovation, and heritage.

“The Intellectual Property Department is persuading communities in every province to submit indigenous products for quality validation, in line with GI guidelines,” said Thosapone Dansuputra, director-general of the Intellectual Property Department at the Ministry of Commerce.

To date, the department has certified 103 products in 67 of the Kingdom’s 77 provinces and awarded them GI certificates. Some of the Thai products that have obtained certificates and have been accepted as such in the European Union include Doi Tung Coffee, Thung Kula Rong Hai Thai Hom Mali (Jasmine Fragrant) rice. India, meanwhile, recognizes Lamphun Brocade Thai Silk as a GI product.

The certificates are recognized internationally, and Thailand, in turn, has recognized 16 products from countries such as Italy, France, and Viet Nam. Among the products that have submitted GI certificates to the ministry and are waiting for approval are grapes from California, and Kobe beef from Japan.

The GI certificates are used to identify a product as originating in the territory of a particular country, region or locality that specific quality, reputation or other characteristics originate from and are unique to. An example of such a product from France would be champagne, which must originate from the Champagne region of that country.

Sales of GI products from the European Union globally exceed $60 billion a year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations cautions that “the marketing of GI products represents a challenge.” It needs to be considered at the very outset of the certification process, and carefully planned and executed, the organization said.

The ministry said a product with a GI certificate generally commands higher prices in developed markets. Thosapone noted that Thailand has a virtual treasure trove of products that could qualify for certificates. She estimated the number is in the hundreds.

Last year, sales of GI products from Thailand totaled over $125 million, up from $116 million the year before. By awarding more certificates that are deserved, the ministry believes it can reach the $1 billion a year sales threshold in five years.