Battle Of The Champions: Pakistan & India Take Their Tussle Over Basmati Rice To EU

India Pakistan basmati rice
Image Source: AlJazeera, The Statesman

Pakistan and India are battling against one another as the latter has applied for an exclusive trademark, which will grant it the sole ownership of basmati rice title in the European Union.

These arch-rivals are the only two exporters of basmati rice across the globe. However, this move by India has put Pakistan in a difficult place as it could affect latter’s major exports.

It’s like dropping an atomic bomb on us, said Ghulam Murtaza, co-owner of Al-Barkat Rice Mills just south of Lahore.

(India) has caused all this fuss over there so they can somehow grab one of our target markets, said Murtaza, whose fields are barely five kilometers (three miles) from the Indian border. “Our whole rice industry is affected,” he added.

Pakistan promptly opposed the trademark application from the European Commission, since it can’t afford to lose a major chunk of its exports.

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It’s been three years since Pakistan expanded its exports to the European Union, as India had a hard time meeting stricter European pesticide standards.

It now fills two-thirds of the region’s approximately 300,000-tonne annual demand, according to the European Commission, AlJazeera reported.

For us, this is a very, very important market, says Malik Faisal Jahangir, vice-president of the Pakistan Rice Exporters Association, who claims Pakistani basmati is more organic and “better in quality.

Attaining a trademark Protected Designation of Origin (PGI) means you get “property rights for products linked to a geographic area where at least one stage of production, processing, or preparation takes place.”

Products with PGI tags are guarded against imitation and misuse in countries bound by the protection agreement, and it also helps them sell their products at higher prices.

As per EU rules, the two countries must try to negotiate an amicable resolution by September, after India asked for a three-month extension, a spokesman for the European Commission told AFP.

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