Explained: India and Pakistan’s war over GI tag for Basmati rice

  • Nepal has joined Pakistan in opposing India’s application for GI tagging basmati-shutter The Indian subcontinent has been known across the world for many things but perhaps the most picturesque would be the rice fields that we take pride in. The slender grained aromatic Basmati rice, however, is geographically exclusive to certain areas across the Indus River basin. With the rivers flowing through two countries, India and Pakistan, there has been a controversy in the last few months over the ownership of Basmati rice. India accounts for 65 per cent of the International Trade in the Basmati market while the rest 35 per cent is accounted for by Pakistan. Conflicts over Basmati can be traced to 1997 when an American company called RiceTech tried to patent but received global backlash and international outrage over biopiracy. Creating a rift in the India-US relations for a brief period, the issue was resolved when India threatened to take the US to the World Trade Organisation and their right to call rice products "Basmati” was revoked. RiceTec was, however, in 2001 granted a partial patent for three strains of rice developed by the company. This whole issue opened up a new avenue where patenting plant varieties became crucial, particularly in countries that boasted extensive research in their flora.
    Apart from India and Pakistan, Basmati was grown in Indonesia—a Basmati variant called Baroma (Basmati aromatic). Similarly in Texas in the US, a variety of Basmati called Texmati is grown. In the Mwea region of Kenya, a similar variety called Pishori or Pisori is grown. India vs Pakistan Historically speaking, Rice Research Station Kalashah Kaku in Punjab (pre-partition) developed and released Basmati 370, which is a high yielding variety that is currently grown on a large scale across India and Pakistan; this is what is sold as Basmati rice globally. Legal researcher Delphine Marie-Vivien with the CIRAD, a French agricultural research and cooperation organisation said, “Historically, both the reputation and geographic area (for Basmati) are common to India and Pakistan”, hence European Union’s move to negotiate an amicable resolution is justified. Pakistan has been seeking joint approval, but no decision has been made at either end. S, Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst and author of a book on Basmati GI said: “Pakistan cannot claim historic reputation based on ‘origin theory’ in Basmati…Besides, Pakistan had changed its map in August 2020 to include Jammu and Kashmir. When both nations apply for a joint status, Pakistan would be presenting J&K as its integral part where Basmati rice is grown. India, too, will include J&K. This will create problems for both.” The standoff between India and Pakistan began when India filed a claim in the EU seeking sole ownership of Basmati. This would have provided India with a monopoly over Basmati rice markets. Pakistan later filed a counter-petition against this move later in the year. The timeline trajectory of the issue is as follows: Basmati with its oriental export qualities is much welcome in the international market and disputes over the protected status of Basmati started in September last year over the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or GI Tag. This would give specific geographical origin status and currently both India and Pakistan hold one for Basmati rice. On further analysis of the issue, we find that the PGI status was initially filed by Madhya Pradesh and the state’s farmers when they tried to get a GI status granted for its Basmati rice varieties, even taking it to the Supreme Court. This move was rebuffed by the All-India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) who argued that it would compromise the ingenuity of Basmati Rice. They also argue that giving the state a GI status would mean breeding Basmati varieties in the area that are outside the historical Basmati-growing belt. With the GI tag tied in with the geographical location, giving that permit would mean any country across the globe would have the permit to breed and cultivate Basmati outside the Indo-Gangetic Plains which could dilute the Basmati brand, said The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) who was mentioned in the legal proceedings. This was when India moved to protect the status of Basmati.
    In December, Nepal joined Pakistan in opposing India’s application for GI tagging Basmati rice. Their argument was, Basmati is grown and consumed traditionally in Nepal, and they have worked extensively with researchers across the globe to have the variety of rice they have today. More importantly, rice has many social and cultural ties with the Nepalese communities. In January, Pakistan attached a GI status to contest India’s claims and later in February 2021, the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) submitted a notice of opposition. After reviewing the documents, the European Commission declared the notice reasonable and made REAP party to the case in March. The negotiations are to be held where the three parties will have to come to an agreement. In the event that no settlement is reached, the issue will be brought to the tribunal of the directorate-general for agriculture and rural development at the EC.
  • Lacing exports with GI tags

  • Products with GI tag fetch much higher price than those without such identity KARACHI: Do you know what is common among Pakistan’s Basmati rice, Hunza/ Ziarat apples, Multan’s Chaunsa mango, Kashmiri Pashmina, Khewra pink salt, Sialkot sports and surgical goods and Sahiwal cattle? These are goods produced in certain areas of Pakistan and are unique. They are not produced anywhere in the world. But does the world recognise their status? That’s important to know because unless the world recognises them as such, Pakistan cannot market them in global markets, claiming they are produced only in this country. In other words, Pakistan needs the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for these and many other unique goods – and even services like the famous truck art. Once Pakistan starts marketing these goods and services to the world under the GI tag to be issued by the country, but not contested and brought into conflict by any other producer of any other area of the world, the country can earn a lot of foreign exchange. The Ministry of Commerce has identified two dozen products of Pakistan including Basmati rice that are unique enough to get the GI tag. The question is how they will get the GI tag. Well, back in 2020, Pakistan came up with the GI Registration and Protection Act and since then efforts have been made to provide these products the GI tag they deserve. For this purpose, the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) has already initiated the process of establishing the Geographical Indication Registry. Currently, the trade marks registry officers are busy carrying out the spadework for the GI Registry, which is expected to start functioning under IPO-Pakistan in current fiscal year 2021-22. It is difficult to assess the possible volumetric gains in exports after all 24 products that deserve the GI tag get them. But given the fact that the list of these items include export heavyweights like Basmati rice, mangoes and sports and surgical items, one can safely assume that the total annual gains can reach a billion-dollar mark – or even surpass it. Combined exports of these three categories of items currently stand close to $2 billion. However, total export earnings of the other 21 items are less than half a billion dollars. Once the GI tag is applied to all of them, Pakistan’s export earnings of less than $2.5 billion from these two dozen products can rise to $3.5 billion a year in the very first year of GI tag application. Going forward, the increasing cumulative export earnings will depend largely on how the Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan’s foreign trade missions and exporters manage to market these GI-tagged products around the world. Generally speaking, a product with the GI tag – not brought into international dispute and accepted as such – fetches a much higher per unit price than the similar products without GI tags. Lacing exports with GI tags, rolling out seductive and powerful brands and marketing them aggressively decidedly boost exports. Over the past two decades, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh all have done that. And that has resulted in several times increase in their export earnings. Brand power In Pakistan, about a dozen textile exporters have created, and are maintaining, their brand power. Among them are Afroze, Alkaram, Artistic Milliners, Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries, Feroze 1888 Textile Mills, Gul Ahmed, Garibsons, Interloop, Liberty Textiles, Nishat, Soorty Enterprises, Style Textiles and Younus Textile Mills. According to the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, almost all of these companies fetched more than $100 million in exports in the just-ended fiscal year. A similar brand power needs to be created, and maintained, in rice, fish and seafood and meat exports as well. But sadly, in these categories of exports, we don’t see enough branding. Seafood exporters and the government must strive for getting the GI tag for certain types of fish that are found only in Pakistani rivers and in the territorial waters of Pakistan. Besides, the seafood processing industry needs to be upgraded. Technical assistance can be sought from Indonesia that has achieved many milestones in seafood exports over the last decade with the result that per unit export price of its fish and seafood is way higher than that for Pakistan’s products. Coming back to the issue of lacing exports with GI tags, two aspects need to be put in perspective. The indifferent attitude of government agencies towards earning GI tags for potential Pakistani products does not only keep export earnings from rising fast and sustainably, it also deprives the economy of greater number of jobs in rural and semi-urban areas, and stunts the growth of small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. More unique products Among Pakistan’s unique products that are best candidates for winning the GI tag are Sindhi Topi and Ajrak, truck art, Chitrali embroidery, Gujranwala pottery, Multan blue pottery, Gujranwala coloured pottery, Swat peaches and Peshawari Chappal (sandles) – and perhaps more importantly Kalash dress. Do you notice that these products come from all provinces and federating units of Pakistan? If they actually get the GI tag and their exports jumpstart, the rural and semi-urban areas of all provinces and federating units that produce them would get an economic boost in terms of greater job opportunities and higher income levels. But even after getting the GI tag for them and other unique products, Pakistan will have to do a lot more to promote manufacturing and trading SMEs to ensure a high and sustainable growth of these GI-decorated as well as other similar items of exports. Unfortunately, despite tall claims of every government about promoting the SME sector, a very large number of small and medium units continue to run in the undocumented sector. Even amongst those that operate in the formal sector, not many can manage to get bank financing. Bank financing to the SMEs remains pathetically low. According to State Bank statistics (for May 2021), bank financing to the SMEs accounts for just 8.8% of the total bank financing to private sector businesses.
  • Basmati GI in EU: India says Pak’s claim unfounded

  • “It is a question of intangible cultural legacy of India. The creation of Pakistan was on the basis of rejection of the Indian identity, history and culture. Else, why Partition? Hence, one is free to grow what one wants in Pakistan, but cannot use the trademark basmati,” Sharma said in a tweet.

    Last week, commerce minister Piyush Goyal had a meeting with civil aviation minister HS Puri on increasing India’s share in basmati rice exports.Last week, commerce minister Piyush Goyal had a meeting with civil aviation minister HS Puri on increasing India’s share in basmati rice exports.India has hardened its stance on seeking exclusive the geographical indication (GI) tag from the European Union (EU) on basmati rice. The country’s Permanent Representative to Unesco, Vishal V Sharma, has categorically said Pakistan “cannot use the trademark basmati” even as exporters in the neighbouring country have been clamouring for a joint approval. “It is a question of intangible cultural legacy of India. The creation of Pakistan was on the basis of rejection of the Indian identity, history and culture. Else, why Partition? Hence, one is free to grow what one wants in Pakistan, but cannot use the trademark basmati,” Sharma said in a tweet. After India filed to register the name ‘basmati’ under GI in the EU in 2018, the European Commission last year sought public comments that prompted Pakistan to hurriedly pass a GI law and also claim trademark over “basmati”. Reports in Pakistan media suggested that exporters of the aromatic rice varieties in both countries wanted joint claim over the trademark. However, All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has termed such reports mischievous and said the industry body is with the government. “India’s application for registration of basmati rice as GI in EU was placed in public domain for comments. The comments are under evaluation in EU. We have to wait and watch for the moment,” said Vinod Kaul, executive director of AIREA. Last week, commerce minister Piyush Goyal had a meeting with civil aviation minister HS Puri on increasing India’s share in basmati rice exports. Pakistan cannot claim historic reputation based on ‘origin theory’ in basmati, said S Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst and author of a book on basmati GI. “Besides, Pakistan had changed its map in August 2020 to include Jammu and Kashmir. When both nations apply for a joint status, Pakistan would be presenting J&K as its integral part where basmati rice is grown. India, too, will include J&K. This will create problems for both, but more importantly, in case of a joint application it would look as if India is endorsing Pakistan’s map,” Chandrasekaran said. Considering the past instances of attempts to sell aromatic rice of other countries under basmati, registration under GI will help India protect the name legally. Basmati rice is grown below the foothills of the Himalayas in the Indo-Gangetic plains, which include some areas in Pakistan. But the application by India doesn’t mention Pakistan. The government recognises 34 Indian rice varieties, both traditional and evolved, as basmati, while Pakistan has also a few more. India’s basmati exports to EU countries dropped 9% to $207 million during FY20, but surged by nearly 50% in FY21 to around $300 million. The EU had a share of about 8% in India’s total basmati rice exports of around $4 billion.
  • Pakistani, Indian exporters agree to share Basmati rice ownership

  • 2 countries at loggerheads over issue since 2006 although EU under its rules recognises Basmati as common product photo file\ KARACHI/NEW DELHI: Although long-time rivals India and Pakistan are already locked in a slew of land and sea disputes, exporters from both sides have agreed to share ownership of the region's prized Basmati rice, the best solution to the issue to reach the EU markets. India has filed a claim in the EU seeking a geographical indication tag for Basmati rice, a move opposed by neighbouring Pakistan, which has filed its own request for protected geographical indication. A geographical indication is a label applied to products with a specific geographical origin that has qualities or reputation essentially based on the natural and human factors of their origin. Pakistani and Indian exporters, however, believe that joint ownership of Basmati is the only viable solution to the dispute. "There has to be joint ownership, which is a logical solution to the dispute," Faizan Ali Ghouri, a Karachi-based rice exporter, told Anadolu Agency. New Delhi and Islamabad have long been claiming to be the origins of Basmati rice, which is largely produced in both countries. The Punjab province, which was divided into East Punjab (India) and West Punjab (Pakistan) in 1947, is the origin of Basmati rice. "There is no logic in both countries' claim for the sole exclusivity. Although its origin is Pakistani Punjab, it is grown in both sides of the border," Ghouri said, adding: "Therefore, a joint ownership is the only viable solution to the long-standing dispute." The EU buyers, he contended, also prefer the joint ownership of the rice as they want to keep both New Delhi and Islamabad on board in terms of commodity exports. "A joint ownership is in their (EU buyers) own interests for two reasons. First, demand for Basmati has been increasing over the past three years, and second, they want an alternative in case one country's production is reduced," he added. Endorsing Ghouri’s views, Ashok Sethi, director of Punjab Rice Millers Export Association in India, said the two neighbours should jointly protect the Basmati heritage. "India and Pakistan are the only two countries, which produce Basmati in the world. Both countries should jointly work together to save heritage and protect the geographical indication regime of the rice," he told Anadolu Agency. "Hundreds of thousands of farmers (on both sides) are associated with the production of Basmati. We need to protect their businesses," he maintained. Read: Ministry looks to register Basmati rice as local brand No objection In 2006, the EU under its special rules recognised Basmati as a joint product of the two countries. Pakistan exports 500,000-700,000 tons of Basmati rice to different parts of the world, with 200,000 to 250,000 tons shipped to EU countries, according to data by the Pakistani Commerce Ministry. Pakistan annually earns $2.2 billion compared to India's $6.8 billion from Basmati exports. Vijay Setia, a New Delhi-based exporter, said India has a "healthy" competition with Pakistan vis-a-vis Basmati exports, and has no objection to Islamabad getting its own geographical indication tag. "Both countries export Basmati rice. India, in its application to the EU, has never stated that it is the only Basmati producer in the world," he asserted while talking to Anadolu Agency. "We have always said it is a joint heritage of property of India and Pakistan," he said. However, Pakistan feels it is lagging behind India, and it will capture the market if Delhi gets approval sooner, he went on to argue. Muzzamil Chappal, another Karachi-based exporter, said that India did not produce Basmati until 1966. Basmati seeds, he claimed, had been taken to Indian Punjab from Pakistan somewhere around 1965. It was 2016-17 when India first time tried to obtain ownership of 1121-type Basmati in the EU, according to Muzzamil. However, he added, the move was countered after Pakistan filed a similar claim. The second Indian move in 2020 was again foiled by Islamabad's counter-claim, he added. Read more: Pakistan receives GI tag for Basmati "The row is leading to joint ownership, in my opinion," he maintained. Origin history Nathi Ram Gupta, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association, opined that Pakistan should not have raised any objection to India's geographical indication claim. "We would have had the geographical indication tag by now if Pakistan had not objected," he said. According to Ghouri, the Pakistani exporter, the Basmati seed 370 was first registered during the British colonial rule in 1933, which acknowledged Kala Shah Kaku town of Pakistan's Punjab as its origin. Waris Shah, a Punjabi Sufi (mystic) poet from Jhang district, also mentioned Basmati in his famous poem Heer-Ranjha based on the traditional folk tale of Heer and her lover Ranjha. "Waris Shah was the first to use the word Basmati in written form," Ghouri asserted.
  • India claims ownership of ‘Basmati’ rice

  • India claims ownership of 'Basmati' rice   Basmati, a distinctive long-grain rice, is now at the center of the latest tussle between India and Pakistan. India has applied for an exclusive trademark that would grant it sole ownership of the basmati title in the European Union.
  • GI tags, certification to help Pakistan fetch higher exports: SBP

  • KARACHI: The geographical indications (GI) tagging can potentially have a beneficial impact on Pakistan’s exports by creating a distinct market identity of some export items, thereby allowing exporters to get higher unit prices and contribute to the country’s foreign exchange earnings, the central bank said.
    “The recent measures taken by Pakistan to put in place the needed legal and regulatory framework for GI tagging are a step in the right direction,” the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in its latest second quarterly report on the state of Pakistan's economy for the fiscal year 2020/21. “That said, Pakistan also needs to expedite the domestic registration of other exportable and GI-worthy products.” In the case of Pakistan, a recent case in GI tagging is that of the basmati rice. This aromatic rice variety is considered one of the world’s most premium, and is produced and exported by only two countries – Pakistan and India, it said. The quality of basmati rice is reflected in its much higher unit values vis-à-vis non-basmati rice varieties. Since September 2020, however, the two countries are engaged in a legal process that is playing out in the European Union over the usage of the “basmati” label, it added. Geographical indications are defined by Article 22 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO) as: “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member (of the WTO), or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.” In October 2020, the government announced a ‘non-exhaustive indicative list of prospective geographical indications’ that included 79 assorted items at the time. These products have the potential to increase the country’s export earnings, mainly by fetching premium prices, and from increased market access and endorsements by international companies and brands. Furthermore, higher sales of these products would also contribute towards rural development and employment, according to the report. There are a number of goods, both natural and manufactured, in Pakistan that carry unique characteristics because they are exclusively borne out of a particular locality, climate, set of traditions and/or a group of people. These include, but are not limited to, Basmati rice, Khewra pink salt, Swat peaches, Sindhri mangoes, Qasuri haldi/methi, Peshawari chappal, Multan blue pottery, truck art, and Sindhi ajrak. However, lacking awareness, resources, and business management and product marketing skills, the producers and/or exporters of these products generally neglect to build a brand, or register for appropriate rights to protect their products in the international market from counterfeiting and other infringements, the report said. GI tags are generally used by the governments to prevent manipulation of domestic products by foreigners. The process is as follows. First, the government sanctions these tags to the products in light of national legislation on protection of intellectual property. Afterwards, they apply for protection in other countries. Pakistan introduced its own comprehensive GI law in March 2020; until then, the country lacked legal grounds to protect its products, both within and beyond its borders. Once established, the national GI tags can be extended internationally through four channels: a) by providing direct protection in the concerned jurisdiction; b) by concluding agreements with other states or commercial partners; c) through the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration; and d) via the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, the SBP report said.
  • India, Pakistan take battle over basmati rice title to EU

  • India applies for exclusive trademark that would grant it sole ownership of basmati title in European Union, setting off a dispute with rival Pakistan.

    From biryani to pulao, Pakistan and India’s shared culinary landscape is defined by basmati, a distinctive long-grain rice now at the centre of the latest tussle between the bitter rivals. India has applied for an exclusive trademark that would grant it sole ownership of the basmati title in the European Union, setting off a dispute that could deal a major blow to Pakistan’s position in a vital export market. “It’s like dropping an atomic bomb on us,” said Ghulam Murtaza, co-owner of Al-Barkat Rice Mills just south of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. Pakistan immediately opposed India’s move to gain Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) from the European Commission.
    A Pakistani worker fills a sack with rice at the Al-Barkat Rice Mills on the outskirts of Lahore [Arif Ali/AFP]
    India is the largest rice exporter in the world, netting $6.8bn in annual earnings, with Pakistan in fourth position at $2.2bn, according to the United Nations figures.

    The two countries are the only global exporters of basmati.

    “(India) has caused all this fuss over there so they can somehow grab one of our target markets,” said Murtaza, whose fields are barely five kilometres (three miles) from the Indian border. “Our whole rice industry is affected,” he added. From Karachi to Kolkata, basmati is a staple in everyday diets across southern Asia. It is eaten alongside spicy meat and vegetable curries, and is the star of the endlessly varied biryani dishes featured at weddings and celebrations across both countries, which only split following independence from British colonial rule in 1947. They have since fought three full-scale wars, with the latest skirmish in 2019 involving the first cross-border air attacks in nearly 50 years.

    Diplomatic relations have been tense for decades and both countries routinely attempt to malign each other on the international stage.


    ‘Very important market’

    Pakistan has expanded basmati exports to the EU over the past three years, taking advantage of India’s difficulties meeting stricter European pesticide standards. It now fills two-thirds of the region’s approximately 300,000-tonne annual demand, according to the European Commission. “For us, this is a very, very important market,” says Malik Faisal Jahangir, vice-president of the Pakistan Rice Exporters Association, who claims Pakistani basmati is more organic and “better in quality”.
    A Pakistani farmer inspects rice grains during a refining process at the Al-Barkat Rice Mills on the outskirts of Lahore [Arif Ali/AFP]
    PGI status grants intellectual property rights for products linked to a geographic area where at least one stage of production, processing, or preparation takes place.

    Indian Darjeeling tea, coffee from Colombia and several French hams are among the popular products with PGI status.

    It differs from Protected Designation of Origin, which requires all three stages to take place in the concerned region, as in the case of cheeses such as French brie or Italian gorgonzola. Such products are legally guarded against imitation and misuse in countries bound by the protection agreement and a quality recognition stamp allows them to sell for higher prices. India says it did not claim in its application to be the only producer of the distinctive rice grown in the Himalayan foothills, but attaining PGI status would nevertheless grant it this recognition. “India and Pakistan have been exporting and competing in a healthy way in different markets for almost 40 years… I don’t think the PGI will change that,” Vijay Setia, former president of the Indian Rice Exporters Association, told AFP news agency.
    Pakistan and India’s shared culinary landscape is defined by basmati, a distinctive long-grain rice now at the centre of the latest tussle between the bitter rivals [Arif Ali/AFP]

    Joint heritage

    As per EU rules, the two countries must try to negotiate an amicable resolution by September, after India asked for a three-month extension, a spokesman for the European Commission told AFP.

    “Historically, both the reputation and geographic area (for basmati) are common to India and Pakistan,” says legal researcher Delphine Marie-Vivien.

    “There have already been quite a few cases of opposition to geographical indication applications in Europe, and each time a compromise has been found.” After years of procrastination, the Pakistani government in January demarcated where basmati can be harvested in the country. It also announced it would assign similar protected status to pink Himalayan salt and other vaunted agricultural products. Pakistan hopes to convince India to instead submit a “joint application” in the name of the common heritage that basmati represents, Jahangir said. “I am confident that we will reach a (positive) conclusion very soon… the world knows that basmati comes from both countries,” he added.

    If an agreement cannot be reached and the EU rules in India’s favour, Pakistan could appeal to the European courts, but the long review process could leave its rice industry in limbo.

  • ‘India should rely on history, evidence to get GI tag exclusively for Basmati in EU’

  • Deadline for India, Pakistan to settle the issue amicably expires today

    India and Pakistan are likely to get additional time to talk and settle the issue of exclusive rights via Geographical Indication (GI) tag to market Basmati rice in the European Union (EU), though there are views that the EU could settle the issue on its own or look to some “political solution”.
  • EU has accepted plea on Basmati: REAP

  • The European Commission has accepted the ‘Reasoned Statement’ submitted by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) against India on Geographical Indication (GI) of Basmati. — Reuters/File
    The European Commission has accepted the ‘Reasoned Statement’ submitted by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) against India on Geographical Indication (GI) of Basmati. — Reuters/File
    LAHORE: The European Commission has accepted the ‘Reasoned Statement’ submitted by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) against India on Geographical Indication (GI) of Basmati. The exporters’ body announced on Monday that the statement opposing India’s claim to Basmati rice GI was accepted last Friday (March 5). The REAP had filed the Reasoned Statement in opposition to India’s claim of GI of Basmati on Feb 5, after sending the Notice of Opposition on Dec 7, 2020. After reviewing both of these documents, the European Commission has declared the Notice of Opposition and the Reasoned Statement of REAP admissible in the case, it said, adding the acceptance has made REAP a party to the case. The rice exporters say now they can directly advocate for the protection of Pakistan’s GI rights over Basmati. With the admissibility of REAP as a party, the case of Pakistan in the EU has reached its third stage where all the contesting parties will engage in consultations with each other. The time period for the parties to engage in negotiations is three months. In this case, the negotiations will last, tentatively, till May 6, 2021. This is a pre-trial phase, whereby parties are encouraged to reach an amicable solution. After the consultations are completed and in case no settlement is reached, the fourth stage of trial will commence in the tribunal of DG Agriculture, European Commission.
  • TDAP gets GI registration certificate for Basmati

  • KARACHI: Trade Development Authority of Pakistan received the geographical indication (GI) registration tag from IPO for Basmati rice on January 26, 2021. This is the first ever product in the history of Pakistan which got G.I Indication registration from IPO. Federal Government nominated Trade Development Authority of Pakistan as Registrant body for G.I of Basmati Rice under section 11(2) of Geographical Indication (Registration and Protection) Act, 2020. Under this Act, a GI registry has been formed, which will register the GI and maintain basic record of properties and authorised users. This will provide protection to our products against misuse or imitation, hence, will guarantee that their share in the international market is protected. Trade Development Authority had organized series of consultative sessions with all the stakeholders including Reap, PARC, Agriculture Departments of Sindh, Punjab, KPK and Balochistan. On the basis of these consultative sessions a book of specification has been drafted which is the most important document that lays down the criteria of characteristics for Basmati rice, which should be followed by producers or operators in Pakistan if they desire to obtain a license to use this name.A consensus was also developed in these sessions among all stakeholders regarding mapping of geographical areas where Basmati Rice is grown. Pakistan exports around 400,000 -600,000 tons of basmati rice to different parts of the world out of which 200,000 to 250,000 tons are being shipped to EU countries. India in its application for GI Tag in EU for basmati had falsely claimed basmati rice as an Indian origin despite the fact that the same rice is largely produced in Pakistan. Pakistan has challenged the Indian claim and had filed its opposition against Indian application under Article 51 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 through a Brussels-based international law firm. Registration of GI tag for Basmati in Pakistan by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, will strengthen our case against India in the EU and will also increase the exports of basmati Rice from Pakistan.—PR
  • Pakistan gets Geographical Indicator tag for basmati

  • Regions where Basmati is grown was mapped by the IPO following recommendations from all provinces. — Reuters/File
    Regions where Basmati is grown was mapped by the IPO following recommendations from all provinces. — Reuters/File
    LAHORE: Pakistan on Tuesday received the Geographical Indicator (GI) tag for its Basmati, paving the way for creating a local registry for this particular strain of rice and making a case in the world markets for its protection as a Pakistani product. “I am glad to inform that Pakistan has registered Basmati Rice as Geographical Indication (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 & authorised users of GI,” Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood said in a thread on Twitter. Image
    “This will provide protection of our products against misuse or imitation & 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. 2/2,” Mr Dawood added. According to the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap), registration of basmati as a GI in the country required cooperation between the public and private sector. The Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) was designated as a Registrant of Basmati by the federal government. TDAP made an application to register Basmati to Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO). In this regard, IPO sought assistance from Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku and Reap. Regions where Basmati is grown was mapped by the IPO following recommendations from all provinces. The process followed by the IPO has been an inclusive one and brought all the stakeholders on one table, Reap said. Through intra-provincial and public-private cooperation, Pakistan has obtained the GI tag for its basmati which will strengthen the country’s case against India in the European Union. Since basmati rice fetch higher prices than non-basmati rice in international markets, India has attempted to block Pakistan’s trade in the EU by declaring that this particular strain is the geographically original one. Pakistan has challenged this claim and by registering the GI for basmati, the country will claim the same protection of its basmati in EU as India.
  • With Geographical Indication rules Pakistan can secure export markets

  • Pakistan has finally notified the Geographical Indication (GI) Rules strengthening its case against India over safeguarding its claims of basmati rice and Himalayan pink salt.
    Pakistan has finally notified the Geographical Indication (GI) Rules strengthening its case against India over safeguarding its claims of basmati rice and Himalayan pink salt.
    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has finally notified the Geographical Indication (GI) Rules strengthening its case against India over safeguarding its claims of basmati rice and Himalayan pink salt. The rules, prerequisite for any GI claims, will allow Pakistan to fight India in the European Union as the latter asserts that basmati rice is an Indian product. Meanwhile, Pakistan has already challenged India’s claims over the rice. “Now as the GI Rules have been notified, Pakistan will be able to secure its export markets with legal backing,” a senior official of the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) told Dawn. The formulation of GI rules have been pending in the county for almost 18 years, but the move picked pace after India submitted an application with the EU, claiming sole ownership of basmati rice. Though the Indian claim was challenged in December 2020, there was a serious lacuna in the Pakistan argument, as the country did not have GI protection of Basmati rice inside its boundary due to its failure to notify GI rules. “The international laws call for local protection of the product before filing for international protection of any product, but that could not be achieved because there were no rules to register basmati rice in Pakistan,” the official added. After the formulation of the rules, the Commerce Division will now establish a GI Registry under the management and control of IPO Pakistan. Apart from the registration of domestic products, the rules also define laws about registering foreign GI. As per the rule, a GI of a foreign country shall be registered in Pakistan as long as it is registered in accordance with the local legislation in its country of origin. The registry shall not allow the registration of a foreign GI which is not or has ceased to be protected in its country of origin or which has fallen into disuse in that country. The rules also state that the application for registration of foreign GI will be made at the registry by its legal representative in the country and during the registration procedure, the registry may require the applicant or its legal representative to submit any information related to registration in the country of origin which may affect its registration in Pakistan.
  • Geographical Indication: With reference to Basmati rice

  • Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used A on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess a reputation or quality that is due to that origin. The qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production. In the context of Nepal, there are no specific laws regarding GI registration. However, there is the Patent, Design and Trademark Act, 1965 (PDTA) to protect industrial property, and it also protects collective trademarks, which can be used for GI protection.
    In addition, although the PDTA, 1965 does not have specific provisions for GI and its protection, this does not stop Nepal from providing such protection as Nepal is a member of WTO/TRIPS, which has clearly mentioned about GI protection. And as per section 9 of the Nepal Treaty Act, 1990, the provisions of a treaty in which Nepal is a party will be implemented in the same way as the law of Nepal. Therefore, even though Nepal lacks a specific provision regarding GI protection, Nepal has a duty to recognise GI and confer the protection to the one seeking it. There are some cases that have been decided here in Nepal in recognition of the GIs of other countries. In the case of Scotch Whiskey Association, UK versus Mohini Hygiene Products, a local company, the complainant, Scotch Whiskey Association, claimed that the defendant could not use the label ‘Scotch Whiskey’ on its liquor because Scotch is synonymous with Scotland and anything coming from Scotland.
    Thus, the use of the label ‘Finest Rare Scotch Whiskey’ by the defendant on its product would mislead the consumer. Also the word “Scotch” denotes the geographical indication of Scotland. Therefore, the Department of Industry (DOI) decided in favour of the complainant, stating that only Scotch Whiskey Association had right over the word “Scotch’’. The defendant, however, has challenged the DOI’s decision, and the case is sub-judice in the Supreme Court. In the context of GI, Nepal recently filed a case against India’s application for the sole GI status for its homegrown Basmati rice. As per media reports, Nepal has countered the Indian claim on the GI of Basmati rice, stating that it is a local product of Nepal too and that no country could solely demand a GI for the crop. This action of India has also outraged Pakistan, which has filed a case against India’s claim. There are many proactive steps that Nepal could have taken to protect its products denoting geographical indications because only reacting to actions taken by others might not help in the coming days. Nepal should, thus, have protected status for its Basmati rice here in Nepal, too. As mentioned above, even though there is no specific provision to register such GIs here in Nepal, there is a provision of collective trademark, which would give the local producer/farmers certain protection by excluding unregistered third parties to use such a name on similar products. For example, the Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers’ Association of Nepal (LGFMAN) has registered a collective trademark for use on locally manufactured footwear. Also, the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC) has registered collective trademarks of two major export products – ´Nepal Carpet´ and ´Everest Big Cardamom´. And the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) has provisioned a collective trademark for domestically produced orthodox tea, which is registered as ‘Nepal Tea, Quality from the Himalayas’. Also, Himalayan Specialty Nepal Coffee was registered at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUI- PO) in 2013 by the National Tea and Coffee Development Board. A similar collective trademark for Basmati rice could have been registered through any association or board at the Department of Industry (DOI) to protect the rights of the local producers here in Nepal. This type of collective trademark registration at least in Nepal would have greatly helped and benefitted the local producers and farmers. This would help Nepal to preserve its natural products and unique creation and also help increase the value of the products produced by the farmers. As a country located at the foot of the Himalayas and a country rich in natural resources, Nepal’s agricultural and other products have a unique flavour or quality not found in any other country. For example, there is the Ilam tea, Mustang/ Jumla apples, yak cheese and Pashmina shawls, to name a few, with geographical indications. These products have already found a niche in the international market. However, the protection of these products and their production are still not seen. Hence, the legislature should not delay to introduce a new comprehensive law, which is already in the process of being drafted, to replace the current Patent, Design and Trademark Act of 1965 as this act is not contemporary and is not in compliance with various international treaties that Nepal is a party of. Therefore, in the recent case of Basmati rice too, with comprehensive laws, provision for GI protection would have helped provide protected status at least here in Nepal. It would not only protect the reputation of a product of Nepal but also help motivate and protect the labour of the farmers. This kind of protection would help our local farmers earn more as no other mediators or big companies would be able to use such trademarks on a product other than the genuine farmers producing it. Also collective registration of the trademark ‘Basmati Rice’ could have made our position stronger internationally in this ongoing case. Regmi is an associate at Apex Law Chamber Nepal recently filed a case against India’s application for the sole GI status for its homegrown Basmati rice. As per media reports, Nepal has countered the Indian claim on the GI of Basmati rice, stating that it is a local product of Nepal too and that no country could solely demand a GI for the crop
    A version of this article appears in print on December 24, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.
  • Rice exporters prepare case to retain share in EU market

  •   Pakistani rice exporters are bulking up arguments to thwart India’s bid to obtain an exclusive geographical indication (GI) tag for basmati rice in the European Union (EU), an industry’s representative said on Thursday.
    The spokesperson of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) said the association is fighting the battle against India’s claim on GI of Basmati in the EU. After the announcement of application of India for GI in European Journal, the first step was to stop India from proceeding further in its registration of GI in European Commission by filing a notice of opposition. “This is the first step which effectively maintains the status quo, whereby making the applicant’s approval of GI conditional on the decision of DG Agriculture European Commission (DG Agri),” said the spokesperson. Last week, Reap filed a notice of opposition against India’s claim on GI of Basmati in European Union. The European Union has also acknowledged the filings of the ‘notice of opposition’ by Reap, “Reap is at this second step and preparing a reasoned statement to file, within 60 days as required. At the third step, hearings and other proceedings will start after this period of 60 days elapses, which will be in February 2021,” said the spokesperson. “The final decision on the registration of GI of Basmati will be delivered after the hearings. As the case in the EU progresses, Reap will keep on updating on all the developments.” India, last month, asked the EU to recognise the fragrant, long-grain staple as originating in seven Indian states and territories, which would give its producers exclusive rights to the basmati label in the lucrative European market. Pakistan rejects India’s claim, arguing that its farmers also grow basmati rice. Since 2006, the EU has applied zero tariffs on rice imported into the bloc that has been authenticated by either Pakistani or Indian authorities as genuine basmati. Rice exports from Pakistan amounted to $2.3 billion, up five percent year-on-year during the last fiscal year of 2019/20, according to the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign trade report. Overall, food exports fell more than 5 percent to $4.3 billion in FY2020 from $4.6 billion in 2018/19, according to the PBS. “Basmati could not be allowed to be monopolised by India in the European market. Such gross misrepresentation by India on the origins of Basmati is an attack on the values of fair competition among farmers and exporters in the EU,” said the Reap’s spokesperson. “Pakistan has a legal right to export Basmati with its original name in accordance with the practice in the EU which is decades old.”
  • Pakistan eyeing to protect its products using GIs


    The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is looking at items that can be registered as a Geographical Indication (GI), informed Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Trade and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.

    “In response to my tweet on Geographical Indication (GI) on rice, many people have raised the possibility of registration of Salt as GI. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is looking at items which can be registered as GIs,” the advisor said in a tweet post on Friday. The advisor also requested all stakeholders to inform as to what course of action the Ministry of Commerce and IPO should take in case of salt. It is pertinent to inform that Geographical Indications (GIs) are a form of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) which identify a product originating from a specific area, whose quality or reputation is attributable to its place of origin. In Pakistan, Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act, 2020 was enacted in March this year. A significant number of products have potential to be protected under the GI regime in Pakistan including products such as Basmati rice, Kinnow, mango, cutlery, Ajrak, etc. Weeks ago, Pakistan decided to give a befitting reply to India's claim of GI tag to Basmati Rice in the European Union and will file its opposition in the EU. Abdul Razak Dawood categorically stated that Pakistan will vehemently oppose India's application in the European Union and restrain India from obtaining exclusive GI tag of Basmati Rice.
  • Rice exporters challenge Indian GI claims on basmati in EU

  •       KARACHI: Rice exporters have filed a detailed response to the European Union (EU) in a Notice of Opposition against India’s claim on geographical indicator (GI) of long-grain aromatic Basmati rice in the EU.
    India, last month, had asked the EU to recognize the fragrant, long-grain staple as originating in seven Indian states and territories, which would give its producers exclusive rights to the basmati label in the lucrative European market. Pakistan rejects India’s claim, arguing that its farmers also grow basmati rice. “Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has filed a Notice of Opposition on (December 7) against India’s claim on GI of Basmati in the EU,” the association said on Tuesday in a statement.  

    “REAP has taken this step on behalf of rice exporters and farmers of Pakistan who are at the risk of losing a billion-dollars’ worth of income.”


    Since 2006, the EU has applied zero tariffs on rice imported into the bloc that has been authenticated by either Pakistani or Indian authorities as genuine basmati. Pakistan has a thriving industry of export of Basmati, making the country one of the top five exporters of rice in the world. REAP said it has previously been involved in developing and revising UK Code of Practice and arranging trade delegations abroad to foster the export of Basmati from Pakistan.

    “India had sought protection of its Basmati as a GI product in EU in a mala fide attempt to deter Pakistan’s growing export and appreciation of Basmati.”

    Pakistan’s export of Basmati to EU has almost doubled in the last five years and it has outpaced India’s exports of the same. The importers and customers in EU appreciate Pakistan’s Basmati more than that of India due to its exotic aroma, sweeter taste and soft texture and above all in terms of food safety including Pesticides which has resulted in increased demand. Basmati, being a centuries old heritage of Pakistan, could not be allowed to be monopolised 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 said.

    Pakistan has a legal right to export Basmati with its original name in accordance with the practice in EU which is decades old. European importers have also raised their objections against the Indian stance, and in support of Pakistan. The statement said 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 n internally registered GI of Basmati will strengthen Pakistan’s case in the coming legal stages in the EU. REAP remains optimist that Pakistan has strong case as EU recognises the country as authentic basmati growing region. “The protection of Basmati as Pakistan’s indigenous product is crucial to sustain the rice exports, Consequently, REAP is leading the way in this endeavor without any regards to costs.”
  • Rice wars: the dispute over Basmati GI

  • Rice wars: the dispute over Basmati GI
    As Pakistan plans to challenge India’s claim for a geographical indication for Basmati rice in the EU, NV Saisunder and Vishaka Sivakumar of Eshwars explore the background and implications of the latest source of conflict between the two countries.
    A geographical indication (GI) as a special IP right is granted to protect the unique qualities of a product that are specific to its geographical origin. Considering the commercial role and competitive advantage of GI tags, there are often disputes between two geographies, be it states or countries, and India and Pakistan are no exception. In the past, political tensions between India and Pakistan have spilled over in trade disputes, including an IP dispute on the Basmati GI tag. Basmati, the long grain aromatic rice, is produced in India and Pakistan. After failing to jointly register a GI tag for Basmati rice, India and Pakistan decided to make registrations individually within the GI laws of their own countries before broaching the international market. In November 2008, India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Product Export Development Authority (APEDA) filed an application before India’s GI registry, claiming exclusivity of the GI tag for Basmati rice produced in seven states, namely Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Branding rights on Basmati rice: Pakistan prepares response for

  • Branding rights on Basmati rice: Pakistan prepares response for European Commission  
    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has prepared a detailed response for submission before the European Commission on December 10, 2020 in order to foil the Indian attempts for obtaining branding rights on Basmati rice, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said on Friday.
    He hoped that Pakistan’s defence was ready and the Indian claim on Basmati rice would be rejected in totality. The decision to this effect is expected to be announced within a one-year period, he added. Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said that he would be visiting Afghanistan from November 16 on a two-day visit to kick-start negotiations on revision of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). “We possess so many documents related to the past on account of minutes of meetings and present ones. We will present all these documentary proofs to the European Union’s Commission to prove that Basmati rice is our brand” Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said in an interview with The News here at his office on Friday. He said that India’s stance on Basmati rice was impossible to prove because Pakistan possessed every proof to foil New Delhi’s attempt. “Our first statement will be submitted on December 10 and then Pakistan will have to submit its application in the second round. We hope that the result in this regard will be announced in one year. I met with the Attorney General yesterday to ensure that we hire a good law firm to defend our Basmati case before the EU Commission,” he added. Regarding Afghanistan, he said that the Afghan side was a tough negotiator but hoped that the revised transit agreement would be done in the next three to four months. He said that the smuggling back of goods into Pakistan was our major concern and Islamabad conveyed its shopping list with the Afghan authorities. He said that India had not so far taken up its demand for getting access of Indian goods through the Wagah border. When asked about the market access after the recent US elections, he said that the new government would take some time to settle down but getting market access from Washington was not an easy task yet Islamabad would continue its efforts to get increased market access. When asked about the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) under CPEC, he said that it requires a lot of spadework and acquisition of land is a provincial subject. He said that the SEZ at Dabeiji would be quite crucial because land scarcity was hampering Karachi’s industrialists. One SEZ at Sundar became successful and its model would be replicated. He said Faisalabad’s SEZ was operating and 10 to 15 units were in the process of relocation. “It would be great if Pakistan would be able to relocate 1,000 Chinese units at Gawadar or other SEZs in Pakistan,” he added. To another query about the export targets, he said that the government wanted to fetch $27 to $28 billion exports of goods and services during the current fiscal year. He said that he used to give a range of export targets for the current fiscal but after the second wave of outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, he was a bit reluctant to give any figure. When asked again, he replied that for export of goods, our target stood at $22 to $23 billion and for services $5 billion, so in totality exports of goods and services could fetch $27 to $28 billion. He said it was not good to rely on five traditional sectors of exports, so the government had prepared the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) for focusing on pharmaceutical, engineering, agro products, meat and poultry. Our policy is product diversification within sectors like textile and then increase in other sectors. He said that fruits and vegetable exports had so far fetched $750 million as mango and keno exports were the major contributors. He said the export of mango was targeted at 80,000 tons but it went up to 125,000 tons in the current season. Our second focus is on geographical diversification to boost up exports to Africa, Central Asian Republics and Russia and other states. Then the government decided to come up with Look Africa policy as one consultant was coming to Pakistan soon in order to exploit the situation. “We are giving a target of $5 billion exports to Africa,” he added. In Africa, our engineering products such as tractors are going and also rice. When asked why exports were not increasing at the desired pace, he replied that it was not easy task for increasing exports as when this government came into power and he had gone to Faisalabad, everyone was saying that Pakistan was passing through de-industrialization whereby manufacturing units were closing down. The analysis was done to ascertain the reasons and it was found that the rupee was overvalued and secondly the tariff structure was flawed. He recalled that the government did not focus on boosting up exports in the last five years. When reminded by this scribe that the last government had given an export incentive package, he said that the-then government had given export package in 2017 after which the export position witnessed a little bit improvement and declining trend was stopped but exports remained stagnant. He said that the stuck-up refunds and duty drawback on local taxes and levies (DLTL) were paid back to exporters and so far the government had provided over Rs 200 billion amount and the backlog was cleared substantially. Secondly, he said the cost of doing business was reduced and 40 percent raw material could be brought into Pakistan at zero rated duty. It means there is zero Customs Duty, Additional Customs Duty and Regulatory Duty on 40 percent raw material coming into Pakistan through imports. The imports were reducing mainly through massive reduction in non-essential imported items. Now the economic activities are picking up as large scale manufacturing had turned into positive as cement sale was making records. The motorcycle sale has achieved the highest-ever record in the history of the country, he added. The overall LSM growth has transformed from negative to positive in the current fiscal year, he maintained. He said that exports improved by six percent in July 2020 compared to the same month of the last year. However, exports turned into negative in August 2020 because of increased number of holidays and severe rainfall that choked activities at ports. The international demand also contracted in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic. The Pakistani manufacturing units have exhausted their capacity after running at full capacity, he added.
  • Pakistan to challenge India’s claim of GI tag to Basmati rice in EU, MPs told

  • Pakistan to challenge India’s claim of GI tag to Basmati rice in EU, MPs told ISLAMABAD-The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was informed on Friday that Pakistan would challenge the India’s claim of Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Basmati rice in the European Union (EU). The Senate committee, which met under the chair of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, has discussed the application to the EU by India for registration of GI tag of Basmati rice and the steps taken by the government of Pakistan in this regard. 
    As per the Indian application, basmati is special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in a particular geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. India has also referred other reports to show that the Basmati rice is of Indian origin without mentioning that the same is produced in Pakistan. The Committee was informed that Pakistan is producing high quality rice and exports 0.7 metric tonnes every year. Pakistan exports 50 percent of rice the EU. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said that Pakistan’s parliament has approved GI rules in last year, which was approved by India few years back. He further said that Pakistan will vehemently oppose India’s application in the European Union and restrain India from obtaining exclusive GI tag of basmati rice.
    The committee was informed India had applied for GI tag in EU for Basmati rice under article 50(2) (a) of EU Regulations No. 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the council on quality scheme for agriculture products on September 11. India in its application had falsely claimed Basmati rice as an Indian origin despite the fact that the same rice is largely produced in Pakistan.
    According to laid down rules and procedures, any country can oppose the application for registration of an AME pursuant to Article 10 and Article 50(2)(a) of the regulation number 1151 (2012). There is a time limit of three months to file an application against it, so now Pakistan has decided to file an application for opposing the right of exclusivity of India on basmati rice GI tag. Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmad Muhammad Shahi informed that government should not import the vegetables from other countries when domestic corps are ready in the country. He said it would benefit the local farmers. The Committee has recommended the government to impose ban on vegetable imports when domestic crops are ready. 
     The Committee has also discussed e-commerce policy of the the ministry of commerce. Abdul Razak Dawood has informed that policy has nine pillars. He said that there is room to improve the policy, which has many flaws. The Committee has decided to discuss the policy in detail in next meeting.
  • Pakistan Opposes India’s Application for the Exclusivity of Basmati in the EU

  • Pakistan and India are at odds over Geographical Indication tagging of aromatic long grain rice. Accordingly, Pakistan to challenge India’s application for the exclusivity of basmati in the European Union.

    Pakistan Opposes India’s Claim Over Basmati

    The meeting concluded that India’s claim for basmati exclusivity is unjustified as Pakistan is its major grower. Also, Dawood stated that it would oppose New Delhi from obtaining any exclusive rights. Moreover, Pakistan legalized GI Registration and Protection Act in March this year. This gives it the right to challenge India’s claim for GI tag for basmati rice.

    Pakistan Opposes India's Exclusivity of Basmati in EU
    Pakistan Opposes India’s Exclusivity of Basmati in EU

    Fine Aromatic Long rice is Authentic to India

    Published in an official journal of EU on 11th September, India’s application highlights that basmati is an Indian origin product. Further, it added that this special long grain aromatic rice is authentic to the geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. This region is part of northern India, below the foothills of the Himalayas. Though Pakistan produces and exports a wide range of basmati from the country, basmati of particular characteristic grows only in districts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and also in some parts of UP and Jammu and Kashmir. In a notification dated 10th August, the DGFT deferred the requirement for EIC to export to the EU till 1st Jan 2021. In all, Pakistan has vehemently opposed India’s claim over the origin of basmati.
  • Petition seeks protection of Pakistani products’ identity

  • ISLAMABAD: While the government has already taken steps to challenge Indian application for exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) tag for basmati rice before the European Union, a petition has also been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) of Pakistani products in international markets. Dissatisfied with the arrangements made by the Ministry of Commerce to protect the copyrights, trademarks and GI tag of growers, traders and exporters of Pakistani products, petitioner Muhammad Azam Khan, alleged that the concerned ministry and institutions lack the basic requirements for ensuring the rights of the stakeholders. The Ministry of Commerce, Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Pakistan and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) have been listed as respondents in the petition. The petitioner has contended that immediate action is required to designate and appoint a registrar of GIs under the GI Act with special emphasis on resolving the currently pending basmati rice issue before the EU as the limitation for opposition expires on December 11, 2020. He contended that immediate steps must be taken to regularise and organise local and international registration. Furthermore, a task force is needed to identify pending issues and safeguard future protection of GIs involving all stakeholders of the various indigenous and local agricultural products and processes. The petition said that the Ministry of Commerce has yet to designate a department or body that will oversee the ownership of the GIs alongside the IPO. The petitioner said that the lack of action from respondents would certainly result in massive loss of trade name, business, intellectual property, heritage and indigenous processes. This would then turn into massive layoffs, unemployment, and reduced revenue for the government while the country is already in a recession, and such outcomes would further destabilise several industries, he added. He further said that carelessness at this crucial stage could result in loss of competitive advantage of Pakistani agricultural products in the international market and subsequently, result in loss to farmers, producers and traders nationwide. The petitioner contended the shortcomings of the respondents have left the farmers and affected parties of GIs without the necessary information, knowhow and knowledge of essential legal requirements. Immediate steps are required by the respondents to not only create awareness but correct their ineptness by calling for expeditious registrations of GIs both locally and internationally. He contended that the respondents are shirking from their respective responsibilities under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, EU Quality Schemes Regime and various regulations pertaining to GIs. A committee should be set up to check and supervise timely adherence to the various legal regimes to protect the intellectual property of the country. He insisted that immediate intervention and supervision of this court is required; otherwise the citizens, traders and farmers of Pakistan, and the nation itself would suffer irreparable economic loss and reputational injury.
    It is worth mentioning here that the Ministry of Commerce had announced last week that Pakistan would oppose India’s claim of GI tag of basmati rice in the EU. A Pakistani legal team will file its formal opposition with the EU with proof that Indian claims did not have solid grounds. This was decided during a meeting chaired by Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood. The meeting was attended by secretary commerce, chairman IPO-Pakistan, representatives of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and the legal fraternity. During the meeting, REAP representatives were of the view that Pakistan is a major grower and producer of basmati rice and India’s claim for exclusivity is unjustified. Dawood categorically stated that Pakistan will vehemently oppose India’s application in the European Union and restrain India from obtaining exclusive GI tag of basmati rice.
  • Pakistan accelerates efforts to protect basmati exports’ rights in EU

  • KARACHI: Pakistan is determined to protect rights to continue exporting basmati rice to the European Union (EU), a senior official said on Thursday, as the battle with India on the brand ownership in the 27-member bloc has intensified.
    The executive director of state-owned Intellectual Property Organisation Meesaq Arif assured the exporters that the matter is in control of the government. “The TM (trade mark) and GI (geographical indication) tag will be given to our basmati which it fully deserves,” he said during a meeting with the traders. “All steps are being taken as per GI law and the IPO is fully aware of all legal formalities and action to be taken.” In 2006, the EU approved basmati as the joint product of Pakistan and India. However, India applied with the EU in September to certify its basmati as its exclusive brand. Pakistan exports 500,000 to 700,000 tons of basmati rice to different parts of the world and out of which 200,000 to 250,000 tons are shipped to EU countries, according to the commerce ministry’s data. Pakistan earned $2.2 billion from rice exports during the last fiscal year and 40 percent of them were from basmati, an aromatic grain that is much popular in international market. India has been trying to get exclusive rights of supplying this variety to foreign markets for years. Exporters, while addressing the central standing committee on rice of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and industry, urged the government to leave no stone unturned to get an international trademark for its basmati as India’s ambition for this might cause almost one billion dollars in annual export losses to Pakistan. The government was advised to take prompt steps to register the basmati trademark internationally. Certain steps have to be taken without loss of time and before applying to the EU for geographical indication – a global certification to authenticate a brand ownership. Traders said the government should file an application for the inclusion of GI tag for its basmati to the EU. “Pakistan’s application will be considered on merit,” said Zulfikar Thaver, president of Union of Small and Medium Enterprises. Thaver said exporters said the certification of basmati rice as mentioned in the GI law needs to be given to an independent authority like Trading Corporation of Pakistan or Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research alternatively to accredit private pre-shipment inspection companies. “Under no circumstances it should be entrusted to the association of growers or exporters as it would give rise to conflict of interest,” he said. Rice exporter Rafique Suleman said a task force has been formed in Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) to bring the matter up and involve bureaucracy and ministries. His views were endorsed by other exporters. The meeting was informed that protection and promotion of basmati is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders and every effort must be made to grow more and export more. It was advised that the matter pending in Sindh High Court also needs to be studied and pursued diligently. The stakeholders must not show complacency and remain proactive and alert in this matter. The matter of trade with Kenya was also taken up during the meeting and it was suggested that a free trade agreement with Kenya could resolve the issues of duties on rice and tea and trade can be promoted fairly by both the countries.
  • Footprints: Basmati battle

  • At present, India has 65 per cent and Pakistan 35pc share in the world basmati rice trade. — File photo ABAD Khan stands on the edge of his fields in Nowshera Virkan, a town known for its aromatic, long-grain basmati rice to the west of Gujranwala, looking over his new crop on a September afternoon. The overall average temperatures have dropped but the day feels quite warm — something the basmati growers like Khan should be worried about. To them a warmer weather means early flowering of their rice plants and seed fertility issues. Some parts of the basmati belt along the Chenab are already under pest attack. The attack, according to him, has so far been observed only in small patches along the basmati belt — Narowal, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Hafizabad and Sheikhupura. But he feels it could spread because the pest is resisting the insecticides like anything and multiple sprays in some areas have failed to kill the insect. However, climate change and pest attacks are not the only worries for him. India has applied for exclusive GI (Geographical Indications) tag for its basmati rice at the European Union’s official registry, the Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Food Stuffs. The EU subsequently published the application of India in its official journal on September 11, showing basmati rice as an India-origin product despite the fact that similar rice is widely produced in Pakistan. To protect its own brand of basmati, Pakistan has a few weeks before December 10 to challenge the Indian claim. “If the Indians managed to secure GI tag from the EU for their basmati crop, it will be devastating for our growers and exporters,” Khan asserts, elaborating that the drop in the basmati rice exports will result in lower prices for the farmers. “Once India gets the exclusive GI tag, we will not be able to market our rice in the international market as basmati; we would be wholly dependent on the Indian firms and brands to sell our product in the global markets.” At present, India has 65 per cent and Pakistan 35pc share in the world basmati rice trade. A GI is a sign used on agricultural products that have specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin. Geographical Indications are part of the intellectual property rights (IPRs). GI tags help boost sales and exports as the geographical limitation on production and official recognition of historical and cultural significance increase the demand and create a legacy. The news of India staking an exclusive claim to basmati rice has also shocked Pakistan’s rice exporters as basmati rice exports fetch between $800 million and $1 billion a year. “Pakistan exports basmati rice to many countries. A chunk of our basmati exports is shipped to the EU countries. Should India secure the GI tag for its basmati rice, the consumers will start preferring the [recognised] Indian product. It will drastically harm our market share in EU. Hence, the issue is of crucial importance for us,” says Sameeullah, a rice exporter from Lahore. “India cannot have exclusive right on the basmati trademark when it is a joint heritage. A GI tag is granted on the basis of geographical origin of an agricultural product and qualities associated with the soil of that region or territory,” he asserts, contending that Pakistan’s rice is way better than India’s in every respect. Khan says India’s move has come as a surprise to him. “Pakistan had an understanding with India that the two countries would jointly apply for the exclusive GI tag because basmati rice is our shared heritage since it is grown for centuries by both of them in areas along the Chenab. GI has more to do with soil than history, on the basis of which India has applied for exclusive tag from the EU. Our case for exclusive GI tag for our basmati rice is much stronger than India’s.” Both India and Pakistan had fought jointly in the late 1990s and the early 2000s to foil the attempt by a Texas-based company, RiceTec, to patent basmati rice in the US. After losing the battle, the company named its rice brand as Texmati. Khan is critical of the government’s indifference towards growers’ plight. “It is unfortunate that our government has never shown interest in protecting our heritage. When India tried to make a case for GI tagging for its super basmati rice some years back, our farmers took the initiative under the banner of the Basmati Growers Association and challenged the move in Indian courts in Chennai and New Delhi. Our government never supported us financially or technically nor did it provide us legal support. Resultantly, we lost our case in the Chennai court. We are unable to pursue the other case in New Delhi because we do not have resources to pay for the lawyers’ fee and other expenses. You cannot fight such issues alone; you always need government’s help in every possible way.” Sameeullah is also not happy with the government. “It is not that the government was unaware of the New Delhi’s plans. India had been working on it for many years and already declared Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and (some districts of) Jammu and Kashmir as part of its basmati belt. We had our Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act 2020 passed from the parliament in March this year to claim our right to the geographical origin for our products. But since then no movement has so far been made to operationalise the law. Even our trade representative in Brussels has not done anything so far.” With less than 70 days left to challenge and prepare Pakistan’s case, we may soon be gifting Pakistan’s basmati rice to the Indian firms if the government doesn’t change its behaviour and take immediate action to file objections to India’s claim for exclusive GI tag.
  • Basmati trademark registered in one person’s name

  • SMEDA asked to resolve matter pending for past many years PHOTO: FILE At a time when Pakistan needs to approach the European Union for geographical indication (GI) tag for its Basmati rice, it has come to light that Basmati trademark has been registered in an individual’s name in the country instead of being registered as a GI. The Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) registered the trademark of Basmati in an individual’s name under application number 179196 in Class 30 dated July 20, 2002, with a disclaimer that it might be challenged. “Basmati is a generic name that can only be used as a geographical indicator and cannot be used as a trademark until and unless a new word is added to it,” said trademarks and copyrights practitioner Asif Hayat. He elaborated that trademark was a business name and a company could not own the words separately but in a combination. “It is unfortunate that nobody could point out this development in about two decades,” he said, referring to Basmati being registered as a trademark in favour of an individual. “In fact, the applicant himself was fooled by somebody in the authority and just one dispute can eliminate this entire trademark.” When a person or organisation gets a trademark registered, others cannot sell their product or service under the same name. India has applied to the European Union for GI tag for its Basmati rice, claiming it is grown only in India despite the well-known fact that both India and Pakistan grow the aromatic rice. If the neighbouring country succeeds in its attempt, Pakistan’s exporters will not be allowed to sell rice abroad under the Basmati category. At a time when Pakistan should claim co-ownership of Basmati rice in the international market, it seems it needs to straighten its own record first. Hayat requested the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) to approach the commerce ministry, industries ministry, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), IPO and Registrar of Trademarks to resolve the matter pending for the past many years. He added that Basmati was a heritage of Pakistan and undoubtedly Basmati rice had been grown in the country for decades. “It has all the features and characteristics of Basmati,” he stressed. “Needless to say, it has the best aroma, length and look, and it is renowned in the world for its aroma.” Basmati trademark belongs to all Basmati growers, millers, processors and exporters, said Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) President Zulfikar Thaver. He added that it was a national property owned by Pakistan and could not be registered in the name of any individual or a firm. “Of course, national institutions like TDAP can register it on behalf of Pakistan but due to some reasons, it was registered in an individual’s name with a disclaimer,” he said. “India has applied to the European Union for the GI tag for exclusive registration of Basmati, which shows its mala fide intensions,” he said.
  • Basmati exports under threat?

  • According to news in Indian media, on September 11, Pakistan’s forever frenemy neighbour applied for exclusive Geographical Indications (GI) tagging for basmati rice in the European Union’s official registry of Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Food Stuffs. According to EU’s rules of business, any competing trading nation has up to three months’ notice to contest the claim from the date of its publication. The news comes as a bombshell for Pakistan’s rice exporters as well as its Commerce policy czars, who for the past two years have been banking on EU’s revised regulations on fungicide acceptability levels in food products. Background discussions at the time had indicated that basmati rice originating from India has higher tricylazole levels, a chemical spray heavily used on paddy crop to fight fungal pests. As a result, Indian exporters began to find it hard to maintain market share, leaving open field for Pakistani exporters. Between FY17 – FY20, total volume of Pakistan’s basmati exports increased by nearly 1.90 times – often misattributed to improved competitiveness due to currency devaluation. It is not as if the policymakers had not seen this coming. In March earlier this year, federal government promulgated the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act 2020, allowing Pakistan to also claim right to unique geographical origin for its products, aimed to counter a long-awaited attack from the neighbour on country’s export destinations. But like most Pakistani things, the country moved at a snail’s pace in operationalizing the law, which as per sources at Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) had remained dormant at least until end of August. In MoC’s defence, the pandemic hit during the intervening months, both slowing down country’s exports – and, possibly leading it to lower its diplomatic guard. Afterall, nobody expects a neighbour – even the unfriendly ones – to strike at a time of global tragedy.
    Now that the enemy is at the gates, what will it take to operationalize the law? Consider that India enacted its Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 at the turn of the century, anticipating increased competition to its rice exports in the aftermath of trade liberalization under TRIPS and WTO. Yet, it has taken two decades for the country to demand an exclusive right from the EU, which begs the question whether Pakistan would prove to be the long-eared bunny in this tale of the tortoise and the hare. But why did it take India so long? India’s story of addressing competing claims of GI origin of its basmati producing region deserves some context. Despite producing up to 7.5 million tons of basmati-claimant rice varieties per annum across the country, India assigns GI tagging to basmati originating only in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite protracted court battles, the central government of India has resisted temptation to assign basmati tagging to crop originating in the semi-agrarian state of Madhya Pradesh (central India), as historically it has not been considered contiguous with the basmati producing north-western subcontinent – the region stretching between Indus and Ganges-Yamuna rivers. According to official communication between the CM of (Indian) Punjab and the central government earlier this year, “proliferation of GI tags to any more state will dilute the market value of basmati rice and harm the interest of exporters”. This has hurt India’s ability to grow the quantum of its rice export, which have been stuck under 4.5 million tons for several years, even before the EU revised its regulations on fungicide use had come into force. It takes no rocket scientist to figure out that the distinctions maintained by Indian central government even within the country buttresses its claim for exclusive rights to basmati’s GI tagging, indicating that the country’s export policymakers take the geographical origin business seriously. In sharp contrast, Pakistan so far lacks any geographical jurisdiction for its ‘true basmati’. Although the basmati bowl has traditionally been associated with the north-eastern districts of Punjab stretching from Narowal, Sialkot, Gujrat, Gujranwala, and Hafizabad, the Lahore and Gujranwala divisions belt is no longer the only top basmati producing region in the province. According to several unofficial definitions discovered by BR Research in background stakeholder discussions, the government of Punjab (Pakistan) includes as many as 18 districts of the province in the “basmati belt”. Also consider that central and southern Punjab regions such as Okara, Bahawalnagar, Pakpattan, Jhang and Toba Tek Singh are among the top 10 producers of basmati rice in the country, far ahead of traditional basmati districts such as Gujrat, Kasur, and Lahore. Never mind also that over the past decade, basmati has made inroads all the way into Sindh and even Balochistan provinces, risking whatever exclusivity that the variety could have claimed, if any. In the less than 10 weeks now available to Pakistan to contest Indian claim, the country needs to urgently develop rules to geographically demarcate regions with rightful basmati origins. In order to maintain the authenticity of its claim, it will need to exclude some regions to the benefit of the others. That will lead to a lot of protracted regional politics, an art Pakistani policymakers have often lacked. The second – and the much more difficult - challenge will then follow: to prove to EU that Pakistan has the requisite infrastructure to maintain exclusivity of its basmati sourcing from the true basmati regions. Pakistan’s rice exporters have a nervous two months ahead of them. It will take all the negotiation craft and diplomatic courage Pakistan can muster to register its claim with EU. Tick tock.
  • Pakistan risks damage to export as India applies for GI tag to basmati in EU

  • India is also registering Himalayan salt, Multani mitti with Indian names in the international market

    ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan is yet to implement the Geographical Indications (GI) law promulgated in March this year, India has applied for an exclusive GI tag to Basmati rice in the European Union (EU). The EU has subsequently published the application of India in its official journal on September 11, 2020, showing Basmati rice as an Indian origin product, despite the fact that similar rice is widely produced in Pakistan. Interestingly, officials of the Ministry of Commerce, when contacted, were unaware of this major development which could ultimately damage Pakistan’s exports, such as the aromatic rice, to European countries. Earlier last month, Adviser to the Prime Minister (PM ) on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood had directed the officials to implement the GI since it was promulgated as a law over five months ago. It may be mentioned here Pakistan, after a delay of almost 18 years, had enacted Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act in March this year. According to EU’s official journal, any country can oppose the application for registration of a name pursuant to 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. As per the Indian application, 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. Further, India has claimed that basmati is grown and produced in all districts of the states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, as well as in specific districts of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Interestingly, to support its claim, India has also referred various dictionaries such as Oxford Dictionary which defines basmati as ‘a kind of long-grain Indian rice with a delicate fragrance’, the French dictionary, Larousse, which defines basmati as an ‘Indian, long grain rice, very appreciated’ and the Cassell food dictionary which defines it as ‘a superior type of Indian white rice which is long grained and slender’. India has also referred other reports to show that the basmati rice is of Indian origin without mentioning that the same is produced in Pakistan. Leading rice exporter and former office bearer of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Taufiq Ahmed says that the Indian application at EU must be opposed immediately as it would badly damage Pakistani products’ exports to European countries.
    He said that despite repeated requests and reminders, concerned authorities in Pakistan have been ignoring this serious issue for years and now if the problem is not handled swiftly then we would be left with no option but to sell basmati rice with an Indian name/brand. “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. Unfortunately, India is also registering Himalayan salt and Multani Matti with Indian names in the international market,” he said. According to an official at Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO), an attached department of the Ministry of Commerce which drafted the GI law, the Indian application would definitely be opposed in the EU. He said that since the GI law has been promulgated, Pakistan would take up the issue of all GI products of Pakistani origin with the EU. According to officials, Basmati was already recognised as a product of both India and Pakistan in the European Rice Regime and its Duty-Free Regime, making it illegal for India to claim exclusive rights of Basmati in the EU. “The Cambridge dictionary and Wikipedia also show the product as originating from Pakistan and India,” he added. It may be recalled here both India and Pakistan have approved the GI law which includes basmati as a product of their respective origin. The protection of geographical indications is aimed at boosting exports, helping support rural development in the country, and enhancing the livelihood of agriculture producers and skilled craftsmen. Furthermore, the marketing of GI products also enhances secondary economic activities and boost regional economic development in various regions boosting economic development. GI law protects local products such as the Peshawari chappals, Multani blue pottery, Hunza apricots, Hala ajrak, Kasuri methi, Chaman grapes, Turbat dates etc. Member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) need to give protection to GIs under Article 22-24 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement. Unless Pakistan provides GI protection, it cannot obtain the same for its own goods in other countries that have the GI law. The GI law covers a wide variety of industrial, agricultural, and horticultural products among others.
  • Twists and turns in MP-Punjab Basmati row, with little signs of an end

  • The issue is sensitive for the MP chief minister, especially in the light of the coming bypolls in the state's farming zone

    basmati rice, exports The contentious issue of whether rice grown in Madhya Pradesh should be eligible for the GI tag, just like the kind grown in the foothills of Himalayas, has once again reared its head with state chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan writing a series of letters opposing his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh’s views on the matter. The Madhya Pradesh government has also decided to approach the Supreme Court to challenge an order by the Madras High Court rejecting the state’s claim over the for grown on its soil. The Madras High Court gave its decision on two petitions; one filed by the state government and the other by a rice growers’ association in the state. Several observers and experts are also linking MP’s belligerence to the coming bypolls to the 27 vacant assembly seats, something which will decide the fate of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. As most of the seats in the bypolls fall in the Gwalior-Chambal region, which is predominantly a farming zone, many feel Chouhan is in no mood to compromise in the matter for fear of being branded anti-farmer. This, in fact, was a tag that the opposition Congress successfully managed to stick on him, causing his defeat in the last assembly elections in MP. Madhya Pradesh’s argument in the state is largely grown in and around the 13 districts of Morena, Bhind, Sheopur, Gwalior, Datia, Shivpuri, Guna, Vidisha, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangabad, Narsinghpur and Jabalpur. An estimated 80,000-100,000 farmers cultivate the crop in these areas in over 200,000 hectares of land, as per the state government’s assessment. Madhya Pradesh contends that it has historical records since 1908 of basmati production in the 13 districts and has records of supplying seeds to farmers in MP in the year 1944 by the erstwhile Scindia State. It also argues that the Indian Institute of Rice Research, Hyderabad, had recorded production of basmati rice in MP in its Production Oriented Survey Report for the past 25 years. "Basmati exporters in Punjab and Haryana are procuring the rice from MP. This is also supported by Government of India data of export from the Mandideep industrial area in Madhya Pradesh," Chouhan recently tweeted. The is for PUSA-1 and PUSA-1121 basmati rice varieties cultivated in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from Punjab, other states that already have GI tagging for basmati include Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western UP, and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Punjab and exporters' contention Basmati is among the top three agricultural exports from India and has consistently been a show-stopper, irrespective of global market dynamics. In 2019-20, India exported around 4.45 million tonnes of of the grain, valued at over Rs 31,000 crore. Basmati’s long-aromatic grain, smooth texture and special qualities has over the last several decades made it one of the most adorable and signature food items of India. The Central government, along with the states, has fought a long legal and diplomatic battle to retain the specificity and uniqueness of Indian basmati rice amid stiff competition from neighbouring Pakistan, which has long claimed that the crop grown on its soil is the real basmati. Exporters say granting the to basmati grown in Madhya Pradesh districts will lower its value in the international market and give a window to Pakistan to strengthen its claim over the variety grown in its territory, impacting India’s marketability and premium. “If someone starts growing Darjeeling tea in Chennai will it command the same price as the original grown in the Darjeeling valley. A GI tag or certification is the region-specific identity of a product. No one can simply grow the same crop in some other place and claim it to be the same as original. However, it might be near to the original one,” a leading basmati rice exporter said. He said expanding the GI tag to basmati grown in Madhya Pradesh will diminish its international market and lead to fall in the premium it commands over other rice varieties. Whether or not Madhya Pradesh deserves a GI tag for the basmati grown in its state is now to be decided by the country’s highest Court of Law. But as it deliberates on the matter, getting a GI in itself is cumbersome and many times controversial and tricky in India. This probably explains why India has less than 500 GI-certified items, despite having one of the world’s most diverse agriculture produce and culinary items. Problems of getting GI tag in India Be it ‘Basmati Rice’, or ‘Darjeeling Tea’ or ‘Hyderabadi Biryani’, getting Geographical Indication tag (GI) for items exclusive to India has long been a contentious issue. Though, the GI Act that commenced from 2003 (Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999) has brought much-needed transparency and clarity into the entire field, but experts said a lot of confusion and complications originates primarily due to lack of quality control once the tag is obtained and also limited hand-holding prior to applications are made to the Registrar that leads to half-baked attempts to seek a GI certification. Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India, in 2004–05, since then over 300 goods had been added to the list. India’s vast and vibrant agricultural and food varieties along with inter-regional variations also make it a ‘nightmare’ while applying for GI. Experts said a big factor in granting a GI tag for any product is ‘public perception’ about the same. This is easier for products which are associated with a particular area like Darjeeling Teas, or Champagne of France, but when it comes to generic items like Pashmina which is not usually associated with a particular area or region by the virtue of its name, granting a GI becomes highly challenging. GI Act and its implementation in India is relatively new – it started from 2003 onwards – while in other countries the concept has been in existence since long. The other big challenge in getting GI in India, experts said is the improper filing and lack of proper knowledge which sometimes leads to half-baked applications being filed increasing their chance of rejection by competent authorities. In India there are no provisions for quality control in the GI Act once GIs are registered, which is why there is a proliferation of applications in India. In Europe, one of the pivotal issues is quality control. Once a product is granted GI, there is little possibility of fakes, which is not the case in India. A GI tag brings its own brand equity for the product and it commands a premium in the market, but to get that a lot of background work needs to go into before a formal application is made, something which is absent in India leading to higher number of rejections. A case in point is ‘Hyderabadi Biryani’ which failed to get the GI tag as the applicant could not prove the historical origin and data relating to the dish with supporting documents. The application was filed by Deccani Biryani Makers Association (DBMA) a few years back. "The existing GI tribunal order has not been implemented in letter and spirit. The existing application and grant of GI of Basmati contains a number of glitches. In the interest of the nation, there is a requirement to review the entire matter based on ‘GI principles’ without going into the subject whether MP or any other area is to be included and examination of subject just not based on selective references and interpretations," S Chandrasekaran, trade policy analyst and author of the book Basmati Rice - The Natural History Geographical Indications, told Business Standard. Table: Basmati rice exports from India
    Year Quantity (million Tonnes) Value (Rs crore)
    2019-20 4.45 31,026.00
    2018-19 4.41 32,804.30
    2017-18 4.05 26,870.17
    2016-17 3.98 21,513.00
    2015-16 4.04 22,719.00
    Source: Agriculture & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)
  • Rice exporters oppose plan on MP basmati rice in GI tagging

  • Following the Madhya Pradesh government’s attempts for a Geographical Indication (GI) tag to basmati rice for its 13 districts, the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) said that the GI tag to MP’s basmati would give advantage to Pakistan, which produced basmati as per GI tagging in 16 districts. Exporters feared that it might lead to a fall in exports and India losing its global platform. “We have requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to intervene as the inclusion of new states will dilute the purpose of GI demarcation. The move will help other countries to expand the area of basmati under GI tagging. Pakistan will grab that opportunity to start sowing basmati all across the country. Thailand will be equally benefited,” said Vijay Setia, former president of AIREA. He said as per GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, a GI tag could be issued for agricultural goods that originated in an area of a country based on its quality. “The GI tag to basmati has been given on the basis of traditionally grown areas falling under the Indo-Gangetic plains due to special aroma, quality and taste of the grain. Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir have GI tagging for basmati,” Setia maintainedNathi Ram Gupta, president of AIREA, condemned the attempt and said it would have a serious negative impact on the Indian exports. “India is the world’s largest exporter of basmati, which it exports to over 150 countries. We have recently met the Chief Minister to raise the issue with the Union government,” he said. Anil Mittal, founder-president of AIREA, said inclusion of Madhya Pradesh in the traditional basmati GI area would be against national interest.
  • Madhya Pradesh plea seeking GI tag for Basmati rice dismissed

  • Chennai, Mar 9 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh''s attempts to join the elite ''Basmati'' league has failed once again as the Madras High court has dismissed the state''s plea seeking geographical indication (GI) tag for Basmati rice grown in areas falling under the state. A division bench of Justices R Subbiah and C Saravanan also refused to quash an order passed by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) granting GI certificate for basmati to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The court noted that for a same produce, two GI certificates of registration cannot be issued and precisely that is the reason why Madhya Pradesh has approached the court. "At the same time, we have to observe that the petitioners have an alternative and efficacious remedy available by filing an application to the registrar of trade mark seeking to cancel or vary the GI certificate issued to APEDA," the bench said. The issue pertains to an order passed by IPAB on February 5, 2016 granting GI certificate for basmati in APEDA''s favour. Aggrieved, Madhya Pradesh contended that such GI tag cannot be awarded to APEDA as some regions falling under MP which also produce Basmati has been omitted in the list provided by APEDA. However,the IPAB rejected its claim observing that the documents and evidence filed by Madhya Pradesh show the importance, special characters of rice cultivated in the state but not Basmati cultivation in the traditional growing area. Challenging the rejection and the order granting GI for basmati in favour of APEDA, Madhya Pradesh moved the present appeal. In May 2010, GI status was given to basmati grown only in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Madhya Pradesh moved a statutory opposition demanding that its 13 districts be recognised as traditional basmati growing regions. The 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh which have been excluded from the tag are Monera, Vidisha, Bhind, Raisen, Gwalior, Sehore, Sheopur, Hoshangabad, Datia, Jabalpur, Shivpuri, Narsinghpur and Guna. According to Madhya Pradesh, these 13 districts had been growing basmati for several decades and they were located in the Indo-Gangetic plains having climatic condition favourable for cultivation of basmati. Non-inclusion of the state in the basmati growing areas would have an adverse effect on the lives of farmers who mainly depend upon basmati cultivation, it said. BN BN
  • Basmati growers body opposes GI tag to MP for aromatic rice

  • The Centre should protect the global reputation of and not give Geographical Indication (GI) tag to other states, including Madhya Pradesh, for the premium grain as it would negatively impact the industry and millions of farmers, a growers and exporters' body demanded today. The Farmers & (BRFEDF) said that the government should protect the way has done for Champagne.
    "is attempting to piggy back on the reputation built. The inclusion of as growing area will lead to become generic. The loss of protection is not only for traditional growing area but also to  The result is national loss," Priyanka Mittal, a member of the BRFEDF, said in a statement. Although has lost its claim to sell premium quality of under the brand, the state is trying again to get the GI tag. Currently, the GI tag was given to of seven states -- Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Delhi, Western and two districts of Jammu and Kashmir. A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality. Darjeeling Tea, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, and are some of the GIs. Mittal said that has no tradition of cultivating and legal protection under the GI Act is important to tact the rights of farmers in seven states so that they continue to receive good price for their produce. She said that too is demanding the tag for its premium variety and "any change/addition in area by is expected to lead to a negative publicity by which may be detrimental to the global reputation of basmati". GI is granted only after consultative group consisted of experts in the field and aggrieved people should appeal to (IPAB) and not to high courts, the forum highlighted. is a Rs 35,000-crore industry in the country. India's total output is roughly 60 lakh tonnes , of which 40 lakh tonnes is exported.