ISLAMABAD-The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was informed on Friday that Pakistan would challenge the India’s claim of Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Basmati rice in the European Union (EU). The Senate committee, which met under the chair of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, has discussed the application to the EU by India for registration of GI tag of Basmati rice and the steps taken by the government of Pakistan in this regard. 

As per the Indian application, basmati is special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in a particular geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. India has also referred other reports to show that the Basmati rice is of Indian origin without mentioning that the same is produced in Pakistan.

The Committee was informed that Pakistan is producing high quality rice and exports 0.7 metric tonnes every year. Pakistan exports 50 percent of rice the EU. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said that Pakistan’s parliament has approved GI rules in last year, which was approved by India few years back. He further said that Pakistan will vehemently oppose India’s application in the European Union and restrain India from obtaining exclusive GI tag of basmati rice.

The committee was informed India had applied for GI tag in EU for Basmati rice under article 50(2) (a) of EU Regulations No. 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the council on quality scheme for agriculture products on September 11. India in its application had falsely claimed Basmati rice as an Indian origin despite the fact that the same rice is largely produced in Pakistan.

According to laid down rules and procedures, any country can oppose the application for registration of an AME pursuant to Article 10 and Article 50(2)(a) of the regulation number 1151 (2012). There is a time limit of three months to file an application against it, so now Pakistan has decided to file an application for opposing the right of exclusivity of India on basmati rice GI tag.

Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmad Muhammad Shahi informed that government should not import the vegetables from other countries when domestic corps are ready in the country. He said it would benefit the local farmers. The Committee has recommended the government to impose ban on vegetable imports when domestic crops are ready. 

The Committee has also discussed e-commerce policy of the the ministry of commerce. Abdul Razak Dawood has informed that policy has nine pillars. He said that there is room to improve the policy, which has many flaws. The Committee has decided to discuss the policy in detail in next meeting.