Saturday, March 6, 2021

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Pakistan To Challenge India’s Monopolistic Claim Over Basmati Rice At The EU

Pakistan has found another issue to contest India, and this time it is at the European Union (EU) over Basmati rice. Pakistan has decided to challenge India’s claim of Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Basmati rice in the European Union, said Pakistani media reports.

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In 2018, India applied for a GI tag in the EU for Basmati rice, a variety of long, slender-grained aromatic rice. The GI tag would indicate a product with its qualities, reputation or characteristics, natural or human factors, based on its specific geographical origin. The tag indicates premium quality and thus fetches a higher price for the product.

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The European Commission, an executive branch of the EU, has invited objections on the proposal with a deadline of December 10. Pakistan also exports Basmati rice and is irked by India’s exclusivity claim.

“Pakistan will vehemently oppose India’s application in the EU and restrain India from obtaining exclusive GI tag of Basmati rice,” Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said. 

While India exports 65% of the Basmati rice globally, the rest is through Pakistan. According to Nikkei Asia, though merely 20% of Pakistan’s basmati exports goes to Europe, the potential damage the country would suffer from the EU’s recognition of India’s GI tag may turn out to be even bigger as the product could become firmly entrenched in the minds of consumers worldwide as Indian rather than Pakistani.

Islamabad is moving to get the objection accepted because the EU already acknowledges India and Pakistan as the basmati rice growers. 

“If India wins, there will be a 20-to-25% decline in [Pakistani] rice exports [to the EU],” Muzammil Chappal, a Pakistani rice mill owner and basmati exporter to Europe told Nikkei Asia. “If exports go down, exporters will not buy paddy, growers will not get value in the market and the whole system will get disturbed.”

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