ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is going to notify geographical indication (GI) rules to support its case against India’s unlawful claim to the GI tag of basmati rice in the European Union (EU), as the domestic implementation of GI law is needed to claim a tag for any product in the international market.
Though the country is facing registration issues of domestic products in the international market, local items are yet to be protected through the GI act approved this year after a delay of almost 18 years.
It may be mentioned here that a product has to be protected under the GI laws of a country before applying for registration for the protection of any product’s GI tagging. However, there are no rules of the GI Registration and Protection Act 2020, enacted in March this year, which is why Pakistan’s basmati was not a protected product.
“The GI law is yet to be implemented as authorities concerned have yet not framed its rules. As a result, many local exportable products cannot be registered anywhere in the world with Pakistani GI tagging,” an exporter and member of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said.
Earlier in September, the issue of protecting the long grained rice as a product of Pakistan came at the forefront after India submitted an application with the EU, claiming sole ownership of basmati rice.
The Indian application stated that “basmati” is a special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in a particular geographical region of the Indian subcontinent.
After highlighting the brief history of the rice type, the Indian government further claimed that the region is a part of northern India, below the foothills of the Himalayas forming a part of the Indo-Gangetic plain.
Incidentally, the issue was pointed out to the Ministry of Commerce and its attached department, the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO), by local rice exporters after observing the details of applications on the EU’s website.
Eventually, the Indian claim was challenged earlier this month, with Pakistan arguing that basmati rice was a product of both India and Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan exports 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes of basmati rice annually to different parts of the world, out of which 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes is being shipped to EU countries.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for IPO Pakistan said that the rules of the GI law were are likely to be notified in the coming days. “The rules are in printing process and would be notified by the Commerce Ministry soon,” IPO spokesperson Meesak Arif said, adding that the government has authorised the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) as the lead agency regarding basmati rice.
“Soon after the rules are notified, TDAP will file for the GI protection of basmati rice in Pakistan, which will eventually make the case of Pakistan in EU and elsewhere strong,” he said.