Odishatv Bureau

Islamabad: As the fight for the ownership and brand of Basmati rice between New Delhi and Islamabad continue in the European Union (EU), interestingly the commodity is not registered as the Pakistans local product.

As per the law, it is mandatory to have the product protected and secured under the geographical indication (GI) laws of the country.

However, in Pakistan as there are no rules of the Geographical Indications (Registrations and Protection) Act 2020, Basmati rice is not yet a protected product in the country.

The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan has been calling on the government to formulate the GI laws.

"The laws were finally made in March this year, but the authorities have not yet framed the rules of GI law. As a result many local exportable products cannot be registered anywhere in the world with Pakistani GI tagging," said a rice exporter.

"Even now the pressure of the case at the EU is driving the authorities to finalize the rules for GI law at the earliest," he added.

On the other hand, Pakistan is forced to implement the GI law after India submitted an application to the EU, claiming sole ownership of the commodity.

India has maintained that Basmati is a special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in geographical region of the subcontinent, claiming that the region, being part of northern India, located below Himalayas, which it claims is part of the Indo-Gangetic plain.

The Indian application, after being published on the EU website, gained attention of the Pakistani authorities including Ministry of Commerce, Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, who have decided to contest the case, leading to the Indian claim being challenged at the 27-member bloc by Pakistan earlier this month.

Islamabad claims that Basmati rice is a joint product of India and Pakistan.

It maintains that at least 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes of Basmati rice is exported annually globally, while at least 200,000 to 250,000 basmati rice is shipped to EU countries.

An IPO spokesperson said that the GI laws are in the final stages, adding that notifications will be issued at the earliest.

"The rules are in the printing process and will be notified by the Commerce Ministry soon," said Meesak Arif, the IPO spokesperson.

"The government has authorised the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) as the lead agency regarding Basmati rice," he added.

As per procedure, the TDAP will file for the GI protection of Basmati rice in the country, immediately after the rules are notified, with an aim to make Pakistan's contention against India at the EU, justifiable and stronger.