KARACHI: Geographical indications (GI) marking can potentially have a beneficial impact on Pakistan’s exports by creating a distinct market identity for certain export items, thereby allowing exporters to obtain higher unit prices and contribute to the country’s foreign exchange earnings, the central bank said.
“The recent steps taken by Pakistan to put in place the necessary legal and regulatory framework for GI marking are a step in the right direction,” the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in its latest second quarterly report on the state of the Pakistani economy. for fiscal year 2020/21.
“That said, Pakistan must also expedite the national registration of other exportable and GI-worthy products.”
In the case of Pakistan, a recent case of GI tagging is that of basmati rice. This aromatic variety of rice is considered one of the most premium in the world and is only produced and exported by two countries – Pakistan and India, he said.
The quality of basmati rice is reflected in its much higher unit values ââcompared to non-basmati rice varieties. Since September 2020, however, the two countries have been engaged in legal proceedings taking place in the European Union regarding the use of the “basmati” label, he added.
Geographical indications are defined by Article 22 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO) as: “indications which identify a product as originating in the territory of a Member (of the ‘WTO), or a region or territory, when a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
In October 2020, the government announced a “non-exhaustive indicative list of potential geographical indications” which included 79 assorted items at the time.
These products have the potential to increase the country’s export earnings, mainly by fetching higher prices, and through increased market access and the endorsement of international companies and brands.
In addition, an increase in sales of these products would also contribute to rural development and employment, according to the report.
There are a number of goods, both natural and manufactured, in Pakistan which exhibit unique characteristics as they are exclusively derived from one locality, climate, set of traditions and / or group of particular people. These include, but are not limited to, Basmati rice, Khewra pink salt, Swat peaches, Sindhri mangoes, Qasuri haldi / methi, Peshawari chappal, Multan blue pottery, truck art and l ‘ajrak Sindhi. However, due to lack of awareness, resources and skills in business management and product marketing, producers and / or exporters of these products generally neglect to create a trademark or register the appropriate rights to protect their products on the market. international market against counterfeiting and other crimes, the report says.
GI labels are generally used by governments to prevent manipulation of domestic products by foreigners. The process is as follows. First, the government sanctions these labels on products in light of national legislation on the protection of intellectual property. Then they ask for protection in other countries.
Pakistan introduced its own comprehensive GI law in March 2020; until then, the country lacked legal bases to protect its products, both inside and outside its borders.
Once established, national GI marks can be extended internationally through four channels: a) by providing direct protection in the jurisdiction concerned; b) entering into agreements with other states or trading partners; c) by the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration; and (d) through the Madrid system for the international registration of marks, according to the SBP report.