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March 9, 2021

EU accepts Pakistani exporters’ plea for Basmati GI

Business

March 9, 2021

KARACHI: The European Union (EU) has accepted the reasons of Pakistani rice exporters for why India should not be given exclusive rights to export basmati, industry people said on Monday.

The European Commission declared the notice of opposition and the statement of Pakistani exporters admissible in the case related to India’s claiming rights on basmati, they said. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) filed the statement in opposition to India’s claim of geographical indication (GI) of basmati on February 5 after sending the notice of opposition on December 7 last.

After reviewing both of these documents, the European Commission made Reap a party to the case. “Now, Reap can advocate for the protection of Pakistan’s GI rights over basmati directly,” Reap said in a statement.

Pakistan has been challenging India’s bid to obtain exclusive rights of exporting basmati rice to the 27-member European Union since last year. India is the world’s biggest basmati exporter and meets 65 percent of the global demand for the aromatic rice. Pakistan meets the remaining requirement and earns $800 million to $1 billion annually from its exports.

Last year, India applied for the GI tag for basmati under Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Foodstuffs. Later that year, the Intellectual Property Organization Pakistan filed a review petition against India’s move to get GI tag for basmati rice in the EU.

A GI tag is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess origin-based qualities and reputation in the region. “With the admissibility of Reap as a party, the case of Pakistan in EU has reached its third stage where all the contesting parties will engage in consultations with each other,” Reap said. “The time period for the parties to engage in negotiations is three months. The negotiations will last, tentatively, till May 6. This is a pre-trial phase, whereby, parties are encouraged to reach an amicable solution.”

In case no settlement is reached, the fourth stage of trial will commence in the tribunal of Directorate General Agriculture, European Commission, according to the Reap. Pakistan only recently registered basmati rice as GI under Geographical Indications Act 2020.

“Under this Act, a GI registry has been formed which will register GIs and maintain the basic record of proprietors and authorised users of GI,” Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood wrote on Twitter in January. “This will provide protection of our products against misuse or imitation and hence will guarantee that their share in int’l market is protected. I encourage you to send your suggestions of products that can be registered as GIs to Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan,” Dawood added.