The business community stressed that Pakistan needs to apply for the geographical indication (GI) tag for other products similar to Basmati rice, as well as to protect and promote locally manufactured goods that are common in the international market.
Pakistan recently applied to the Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) for a GI tag after a controversy arose when the European Union posted on its website a request by India for a GI tag for basmati rice. In India and Pakistan, Basmati is an aromatic rice grown.
If one country earns the GI tag, other countries are either barred or receive reduced rates for selling the same item on the foreign market. Now that Pakistan has applied for the Basmati GI tag as well, both countries are expected to get their fair share of the export of rice.
However, there are several more Pakistani items that require immediate government attention for foreign market registration. In the foreign market, goods with the GI tag earn better prices.
Hunza apricots, Peshawari Chappal, Multani Sohan Halwa (dessert), Sindhi Ajrak (shawl), Sargodha kinnow, Kasur Methi (Fenugreek) and Sindh mangoes are some of Pakistan’s popular items, said President Muhammad Saeed of the SME Farmers Association of Pakistan (SMEFA).
He said Dhir knives, Swat wild mushrooms, Chaman grapes and Pashmina shawls could also attract a host of foreign business clients in comments to The Express Tribune.
In addition to helping exporters earn better prices, he said the GI tag for a host of Pakistani products other than Basmati rice would also increase the earnings of farmers, growers and producers who worked day and night in their respective farms and industries.
“Authorities should contact the IPO promptly and claim GI rights for goods specifically known, reputed and recognized for their geographical origin in Pakistan,” said President Zulfikar Thaver of the Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME).
He called on the Secretary of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to apply for the GI tag as soon as possible so that exporters could obtain better rates on the international market, which would increase exports from Pakistan and improve foreign exchange earnings.
According to Thaver, TDAP must assert the GI tag for Pakistani products and register all products that warrant GI because of their particular origin.
The Chairman of the Cereal Association of Pakistan, Rauf Chappal, also asked TDAP, which had been nominated as the GI tag registrant, to demand the GI tag for other IPO items. He offered full assistance in the matter from the exporters.