Now Reading: Pakistan to Challenge India’s Claim on Basmati Rice
Recently, it was revealed that India has submitted an application demanding exclusive rights of claiming Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Basmati rice in the European Union (EU) market. Taking serious notice of this Indian move, Pakistani authorities have decided to challenge the application soon and they are going to submit their objection within the set time frame.
India Demands Exclusive Rights to Basmati
Earlier, on September 11, 2020, the EU published the Indian application claiming exclusive rights to Basmati rice in its official journal on September 11, 2020. In the said application, India tried to show Basmati rice as a product of Indian origin, despite the fact that the same rice is widely produced and available in Pakistan as well. The application stated;
“Basmati is special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in a particular geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. In India, this region is a part of northern India, below the foothills of the Himalayas forming part of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). The special characteristics of basmati are its long slender kernels with a high length to breadth ratio, an exquisite aroma, sweet taste, soft texture, delicate curvature, intermediate amylose content, high integrity of grain on cooking, and linear kernel elongation with least breadth-wise swelling on cooking.”
Furthermore, India made the claim that basmati is exclusively grown and produced in all the districts of its states of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Punjab as well as in certain specific districts of its occupied Jammu & Kashmir and western Uttar Pradesh. Other reports were also referred to present the false narrative that the basmati rice is of solely Indian origin. To support its claim even more, India referred various dictionaries showing definitions matching its narrative.
For instance, it referred the Oxford Dictionary which defines basmati as ‘a kind of long-grain Indian rice with a delicate fragrance’. The French dictionary, Larousse, was also referred – which defines basmati as an ‘Indian, long grain rice, very appreciated’ – along with the Cassell food dictionary which defines it as ‘a superior type of Indian white rice which is long grained and slender’.
Pakistan Challenges India’s Application
During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce, Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Chairman Mujeeb Ahmed Khan informed that Pakistan is currently preparing its objection to India’s application. The IPO Chairman emphasized that the Indian application mentions Basmati rice as an Indian origin product, even though it is also widely produced in Pakistan.
He added that this application is based on half-truth and has no legal and factual backing as Pakistan exports 500,000 to 700,000 tons of basmati rice to various countries. Out of that amount, 200,000 to 250,000 tones are shipped to European countries. Considering this, the European Union is a massive market for the country’s local rice exporters and therefore, it is a very important issue for Pakistan.
The officials attending the meeting also noted that Basmati was already recognized as a product of both India and Pakistan in EU’s Rice and Duty-Free Regimes. Hence, it becomes illegal for India to claim its exclusive rights in EU. Moreover, the leading rice exporter and former office bearer of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) – Taufiq Ahmed – also expressed that the Indian application must be opposed immediately as it would definitely badly damage Pakistani products’ exports to European countries.
“Apart from opposing the GI tag from the EU, Pakistan must also consult international dictionaries to rectify the definition as the same rice is largely produced in Pakistan and the Cambridge dictionary and Wikipedia also already show the product as originating from Pakistan and India”, he further added.
As per EU’s official journal, Pakistan has three months from the date of publication of the Indian application i.e. 11 September, 2020 to challenge it. The country’s authorities have assured opposition to the Indian move within the stipulated time frame.