Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan leading the way to protect Pakistan’s Basmati heritage in EU

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has filed a Notice of Opposition on 07.12.2020 against India’s claim on geographical indicator (GI) of Basmati in European Union. 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. Pakistan has a thriving industry of export of Basmati, thus making Pakistan one of the top five exporters of rice in the world. REAP 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. REAP has carried on its reputation of a responsible and effective association by standing up to preserve the heritage of 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 monopolized 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. 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. In coordination with the Ministry of Commerce, REAP is striving for an early legislation on the GI rules in Pakistan. It will enable Pakistan’s exporters and farmers of Basmati to prevent their product from being used by the same name in international markets. An internally registered GI of Basmati will strengthen Pakistan’s case in the coming legal stages in European Commission. REAP remain an optimist that Pakistan has a strong case as EU recognizes Pakistan 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.