Now Reading: Pakistani Rice Exporters Challenge Indian Claim Over Basmati Rice in EU
After having announced to challenge Indian claim over the geographical indicator (GI) tag of Basmati rice in the Europe earlier, Pakistani exporters have finally done it as they have filed a “detailed response” to the European Union in a Notice of Opposition against this bold claim. This announcement was made by the Adviser to Prime Minister of Pakistan for Commerce and Investment – Abdul Razak Dawood – through his Twitter account.
For some context, Geographical Indication (GI) is used for products with a specific geographical origin, possessing qualities or reputation, essentially based on natural and human factors of their place of origin – practically a copyright mark. Last month, India had asked the EU to recognize the fragrant, long-grain staple that is the Basmati Rice as originating in seven Indian states and territories, giving its producers exclusive rights to the Basmati label in the booming EU market.
As per reports, the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) filed the opposition claim against India. REAP informed in a statement that this Notice of Opposition got filed by the association on December 7, 2020. The bloc’s statement read, “The association took the step on behalf of rice exporters and farmers of Pakistan, who were facing the threat of losing income worth billions of dollars.”
REAP highlighted the fact that Pakistan’s Basmati export segment was thriving, making Pakistan one of the top five exporters of the commodity. REAP further stated that since 2006, the EU has applied zero tariffs on rice imported into the bloc. This move has always been authenticated by either Pakistani or Indian authorities as genuine Basmati.
Moreover, the association itself has previously served in developing and revising the UK Code of Practice, as well as arranging trade delegations abroad to foster the export of Basmati from Pakistan. “India had sought the protection of its Basmati as a GI product in the EU in a mala fide attempt to deter Pakistan’s growing export and appreciation of Basmati,” further stated REAP in the statement.
Basmati is a centuries-old heritage of Pakistan, could not be allowed monopoly by India in the European market. “Such a gross misrepresentation by India on the origins of Basmati is an attack on the values of fair competition among farmers and exporters in EU,” the statement added. Pakistan actually even has a legal right to export Basmati with its original name in accordance with the practice in the EU, which is decades old.
The statement emphasized again that REAP is striving for an early legislation on the GI rules in Pakistan along with the Ministry of Commerce. “It will enable Pakistan’s exporters and farmers of Basmati to prevent their product from being used by the same name in international markets,” REAP said.
All this was confirmed by Abdul Razak Dawood in a tweet, where he stated;
“I wish to inform that Pakistan has filed its opposition against the Indian application to European Commission for granting exclusive rights on the use of Basmati for its rice exports to European Union (EU). We assure the rice community that we will defend our case with due diligence and commitment.”
— Abdul Razak Dawood (@razak_dawood) December 8, 2020
According to reports, the European importers themselves have also objected to the Indian claim on Basmati rice. Customers of Basmati in the European Union prefer Pakistan’s rice over India’s due to its fine aroma, sweet taste, and its absolutely soft texture. The high-quality pesticide used by Pakistan is another reason for the higher demand for Pakistan’s Basmati rice in the highly lucrative EU market.