By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan has decided to contest the Indian move of demanding exclusive rights of claiming Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Basmati rice in the European Union (EU).
” We are preparing our objection to the Indian application . It will be submitted to the European Union within the stipulated time frame,” Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Chairman Mujeeb Ahmed Khan informed the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce.
The meeting was attended by Senators Mir Kabeer Ahmad Muhammad Shahi, Zeeshan Khanzada, Nuzhat Sadiq, Dilawar Khan, Rana Mehmood ul Hassan, Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce, Secretary Commerce and other senior officials of relevant departments.
IPO Chairman said India has applied for GI tag in European Union for BASMATI rice under Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs, mentioned in the EU official journal dated September 11, 2020.
The Indian application mentions Basmati rice as an Indian origin product, despite the fact that similar rice is widely produced in Pakistan. The application is based on half-truth and frivolous grounds having no legal and factual backing.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Pakistan’s original Basmatic belt lies in the Kalar bowl between the Ravi and Chenab rivers.Almost all the cultivation of Basmati takes place in the Punjab province.
Pakistan exports 500,000 to 700,000 tons of basmati rice to various countries. Out of that, 200,000 to 250,000 tones are shipped to European countries. The European Union is a massive destination for local rice exporters and therefore it is a crucial issue for Pakistan.
EU regulation No 972/2006 of June 29, 2006, lays down special rules for imports of Basmati rice and a transitional control system for determining their origin has recognized Basmati as a joint product of Pakistan and India. Basmati is already recognized as a product of both India and Pakistan under the said European Regulation and its Duty-Free Regime, making it illegal for India to claim exclusive rights of Basmati in the EU.
According to EU’s official journal, any country can oppose the application for registration of a name pursuant to Article 10 and Article 50(2) (a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs within three months from the date of publication.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce, according to officials, has also held a meeting on the same subject to discuss the filling of objections in the EU besides taking other steps regarding protecting Pakistani products as per the GI law made by the government this year.
By Muhammad Luqman