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Pakistan will win Basmati GI tag registration in EU against India: Faisal Jahangir Malik

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has filed Pakistan’s opposition application against the Basmati Geographical Indicators (GI) tag claim application of India in the European Union (EU) and will be winner by the grace of God as it has a strong case.

This was stated by REAP Senior Vice Chairman Faisal Jahangir Malik while exclusively daily The Business talking to  the other day.

Following are some excerpts from the interview:

Q: India has applied to get Basmati Rice registered to its name in the European Union. What is the current status of Pakistan and India?

Ans: REAP is confident that Pakistan has a strong case as the EU recognises Pakistan as an authentic Basmati growing region. REAP has filed Pakistan’s opposition application against the Basmati GI tag claim application of India in the European Union (EU) on December 7, 2020. Now we have two months until February 2021 for submit a reason statement explaining why we are opposing Indian application. After that the EU will decide whether REAP is relevant or not to contest the case.

If our statement of reason is accepted, we will be able to join the further negotiation where all stakeholders including India will be asked to decide the matter mutually within the three months after February 7, 2010. If all the stakeholders decide the matter mutually among them the things will get back to normal. However, if they fail then again a three months’ period will be given by the EU for further negotiation. After these three months if the parties fail to reach any conclusion, the EU Agricultural DG will be empowered to decide the matter.

Q: How much time will this process take?

Ans: This is a time taking process which can take eight to ten months.

Q: How do you see Pakistani side so far as the GI tag for Basmati is concerned?

Ans: Well, Pakistan is in a very ideal and secure position. In 2004 the matter was discussed in the World Trade Organization platform in Geneva where it was concluded that Basmati is a joint heritage of both Pakistan and India. It was also decided at that time that both the countries must make GI rules and regulations and then come back to contest. The EU at that very time also offered technical support to the stakeholders.

Q: When were the laws made by both the countries?

Ans: Unfortunately, India made the GI law in 2017 while in Pakistan in 2020. However, we are confident that Pakistan will be the winner in every case.

Q: What difference does the GI tag make?

Ans: There are two main benefits of GI tag registration. First, when our product will be registered as a GI tag in the EU we will be able to claim per ton of royalty from India or any other country across the world especially from WTO members. On the other hand, if Pakistan and India both are registered for Basmati GI tag, both the countries will have to be paid per ton of the royalty by any other country of the world. Secondly, GI tagging has immense importance in the EU consumer market. It enables consumers to avoid replication of the products and use the authenticated and certified products. Basmati, being a centuries old heritage of Pakistan, could not be allowed to be monopolized 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. Pakistan has a legal right to export Basmati with its original name in accordance with the practice in the EU which is decades old.  REAP is confident that Pakistan has a strong case as the EU recognises Pakistan as an authentic Basmati growing region. The G.I tag is an exclusive right to sell products in the registered market.

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