India vs Pakistan: Basmati Battle for EU Market

With India’s application for GI tag for Basmati, Pakistan fears losing its basmati exports to the EU. India vs Pakistan, basmati battle for EU market.

Since 2006, the EU has applied zero tariffs on rice imported in the bloc of basmati, coming either from Pakistan or India.

Tapping the EU Basmati Market

Two-third of EU basmati imports come from India while the rest are from Pakistan. India applied to the European Union for geographical indication (GI) status for its homegrown basmati. In its application, it said that long lengths and aroma characterizes basmati. It grows in all districts of the state of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and in some districts of western UP and Jammu and Kashmir.

The GI status marks a product of having an exceptional reputation and characteries relating to its place of origin. Consequently, this allows producers of respective regions to charge a higher price. Darjeeling tea, Parma ham, and stilton cheese are such products. European Commission confirmed the publication of the application for registration of the name ‘basmati’ from India and gave three months to accept opposition. Further, it clarified that this registration is not yet final. The GI indication registration procedure will be completed after the completion of the opposition phase. 

India Never Claimed Basmati Exclusivity

To the opposition expressed by Pakistan on India’s application for GI tag, New Delhi said that it never claimed exclusivity over basmati. Further, the country’s unilateral application has not breached any law. However, India’s application states that basmati is a unique long grain aromatic rice that grows in a particular geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. Further, it does not say that it grows only in one country. The region mentioned specifies the areas below the foothills of the Himalayas which forms a part of Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). India’s application is currently in the opposition phase that will end on December 11.

It’s not the first time that India has depicted its seriousness towards the issue of Basmati. It defended its jurisdiction over Basmati when an American company RiceTec tried to patent it in the 1990s. Also, India and Pakistan jointly filed a petition with the WTO to prevent US-grown rice from being marketed as Basmati.

In all, Pakistan has around five weeks to file a counter application with the EU to show that why India does not meet the criteria for the proposed claim.

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