LAHORE: Pakistani rice exporters have officially challenged India’s right to the European Union Geographical Indicator (GI) of Basmati rice in an attempt to keep the exchequer and local farming community from suffering a financial loss worth billions of rupees.
On Monday (Dec 7), the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) formally filed a Notice of Opposition in the EU against the Indian charge against the GI of Basmati, working on behalf of Pakistani rice exporters and farmers who are at risk of losing billions of dollars in revenue.
On Wednesday (today), the government will formally file a similar note, as Thursday (Dec 10) is the last date under EU law to challenge Indian claims.
Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood took to the social media site on the topic late on Tuesday night. ‘I want to inform you that Pakistan has lodged its opposition with the European Commission against an Indian proposal for the award of exclusive rights to the use of Basmati for its exports of rice to the European Union’ (EU). We assure the rice group that in a series of tweets, we will defend our case with due diligence and dedication.
A report suggested that Reap, which had previously been interested in the creation and reform of the Code of Practice of the United Kingdom, had obtained a formal acknowledgment from Brussels of the submission of the Notice of Opposition and that it will now have to file a formal complaint against India within 90 days.
Pakistan has a booming Basmati export industry, making it one of the world’s top five rice exporting countries. In a mala fide effort to discourage Pakistan’s increasing export and appreciation of Basmati, India sought security of its Basmati rice as a GI commodity in the EU, the exporters said.
In the last five years, Pakistan’s exports of Basmati to the EU have almost doubled, outpacing India’s. According to Samiullah Naeem, a leading rice exporter, importers and customers in the EU enjoy Pakistani Basmati more than India because of its exotic fragrance, sweeter taste and soft texture and above all, in terms of food quality, including pesticides, which have resulted in increased demand.
As a centuries-old legacy of Pakistan, Basmati cannot be allowed to be monopolised in the European market by India.’ Such a gross misrepresentation of the roots of Basmati by India is an infringement on the principles of equal competition between EU farmers and exporters, he said.
In the meantime, Reap is also working towards early legislation on GI rules in the region, allowing Basmati exporters and farmers in Pakistan to keep their goods from being used in foreign markets by those with the same name.