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Food Safety and Quality Assurance


Geographical Indications (GIs) and Designations of Origin (DsO)



On 10 February 2023, the Department (DALRRD) published revised “Regulations relating to the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin used on agricultural products intended for sale in the Republic of South Africa” (No. R.3023 of 10 February 2023).


Regulation R.3023 applies to the use of registered Geographical Indications (GIs) and Designations of Origin (DsO) on agricultural products falling within the scope of the APS Act only, and that are intended for sale in the Republic of South Africa. The regulations furthermore take into account international agreements regarding the protection of foreign GIs and foreign DsO in the Republic of South Africa.


Article 6A of the Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990 (APS Act) provides as follows for the use of GIs and DsO:


6A. Prohibition and exemption on use of names – (1) The Minister may, notwithstanding any other agricultural laws relating to a specific product and taking into account the Republic's international obligations, by notice in the Gazette, prohibit the use of specified geographical or other names, or terms in connection with the sale or export of a specified product, on such conditions as may be specified in such notice.


(2)     A prohibition issued under subsection (1) shall also apply where the geographical name in question -

(a)   is used in connection with an indication of the true origin of the product in question;

(b)   is used in translation; or

(c)   is used together with words such as "kind", "type", "style", "imitation" or similar words or expressions.


 On 10 June 2016, the European Union (EU) signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Group comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. The EPA includes, among others, a bilateral protocol between the EU and South Africa on the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) and on trade in wines and spirits.


The GI protocol implies that the EU will protect South African names such as RooibosHoneybushKaroo Meat of Origin and numerous wine names like Stellenbosch and Paarl. In return, South Africa will protect more than 250 EU GI names spread over food, wines and spirits. These foods include the GI names of various cheeses, vinegar, meat products, fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals, etc.


The South African ratification process of the EPA was concluded in Parliament on 30 August 2016 and the new agricultural market access agreement (which includes the protection of GI names) took effect on 1 November 2016.



In terms of Article 22 (Protection of Geographical Indications) of the TRIPS agreement, South Africa as a member of the World Trade Organisation is expected to protect GIs originating from other member countries, even though no bilateral or multilateral treaty, convention or agreement on the protection of GIs exist between the RSA and the WTO member country(ies) concerned.


1.  Inspection of registered South African GIs and South African DsO:

  • registered South African GI and South African DO shall be subject to inspection by the assignees designated for the agricultural product(s) concerned to establish compliance with the critical elements of control 
  • Inspections shall be conducted at least twice during a calendar year, or in accordance with the frequency as mutually agreed between the Executive Officer and the producer(s) or the group(s) of producers for which the GI or the DO was registered.
  • Inspections shall be conducted at the expense of each producer or group of producers for which the GI or DO was registered and in accordance with the fee(s) determined by the assignee concerned for such inspections.


2.  Trade control of registered GIs and Designations of Origin:

  • Designated Assignees shall during the course of exercising their mandate in the trade for the agricultural product(s) they were appointed, ensure that all registered South African GIs, South African DsO, foreign GIs and foreign DsO, including registered foreign GIs and foreign DsO that form part of international agreements, enjoy the necessary protection.
  • The appropriate action against any transgressions found shall be introduced as permitted for under the APS Act.