Pak­istan to chal­lenge In­dia's claim on Bas­mati

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - IS­LAM­ABAD -APP

In­dia has claimed its rights over Bas­mati rice in the Euro­pean Union mar­ket and has chal­lenged the Ge­o­graph­i­cal In­di­ca­tion (GI) law, Com­merce Sec­re­tary Muham­mad Sualeh Ah­mad Faruqui in­formed a par­lia­men­tary panel.

He told the Se­nate Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Com­merce and Trade that In­dia had chal­lenged the GI law aimed at pro­tect­ing Pak­istani-ori­gin prod­ucts. In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IPO) Chair­man Mu­jeeb Ahmed Khan re­vealed that In­dia had chal­lenged Pak­istan's Bas­mati rice in the EU on Septem­ber 11 but it did not chal­lenge the en­tire law.

He said that In­dia had ap­plied for tag­ging of Bas­mati rice in the EU mar­ket. The EU has up­loaded the in­for­ma­tion on its web­site so that if any coun­try has any ob­jec­tion it can make a re­quest within a spe­cific time pe­riod. The IPO chair­man added that Pak­istan would chal­lenge the claim, say­ing that In­dia had ma­nip­u­lated facts in its ap­pli­ca­tion and its case was based on weak grounds.

Speak­ing on the oc­ca­sion, Com­mit­tee Chair­man Sen­a­tor Mirza Muham­mad Afridi said that smug­gling had gone down sub­stan­tially due to the ef­fec­tive mea­sures taken for its erad­i­ca­tion, which sup­ported the do­mes­tic in­dus­try and would be in­stru­men­tal in pro­mot­ing eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties and busi­nesses in the coun­try. Afridi ap­pre­ci­ated the mea­sures, say­ing that sick units needed to be fa­cil­i­tated to en­sure their re­vival.

The com­mit­tee was also ap­prised of the prob­lems faced by farmers due to in­ad­e­quate prices of tomato and onion de­spite a good har­vest dur­ing the cur­rent sea­son. It was briefed about the steps be­ing taken for ex­plor­ing new mar­kets for dates, tax eva­sion on com­puter, lap­tops and other IT equip­ment as well as is­sues re­lated to un­der-in­voic­ing.

Com­mit­tee chair­man and its mem­bers said that the ba­sic pur­pose was to pro­tect the do­mes­tic in­dus­try and its pro­duc­tion for over­all progress of the coun­try. Sen­a­tor Mir Kabeer Ah­mad Muham­mad Shahi said that due to im­port of fruits and veg­eta­bles from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, farmers of Balochis­tan did not get fair prices for ap­ple, grapes, onion and tomato.

He said that the Min­istry of Com­merce and Trade should take mea­sures for the pro­tec­tion of farmers and en­sur­ing util­i­sa­tion of do­mes­tic pro­duce be­fore im­port­ing such com­modi­ties.

Re­spond­ing to that, the com­merce sec­re­tary as­sured the com­mit­tee that the is­sues would be re­solved in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Min­istry of Na­tional Food Se­cu­rity and the com­mit­tee would be ap­prised ac­cord­ingly.

Talk­ing about Afghan tran­sit trade, Sen­a­tor Di­lawar Hus­sain said that due to the de­fi­ciency of track­ers, there was a huge pres­sure on tran­sit points. He as­serted that an ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion should be found.

Elab­o­rat­ing, the com­mit­tee chair­man said that trade was the back­bone of the na­tional econ­omy and an ap­pro­pri­ate strat­egy should be framed to pro­mote busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try.

Ad­viser to Prime Min­is­ter on Com­merce Ab­dul Razak Da­wood ap­prised the com­mit­tee that the State Bank of Pak­istan had been ap­proached for the pro­vi­sion of easy loans to small and medium in­dus­tries and con­sul­ta­tion process for the IT sec­tor was in progress, which would yield pos­i­tive re­sults.

The com­merce sec­re­tary in­formed the com­mit­tee that an e-com­merce pol­icy had been in­tro­duced and the com­mit­tee, in its next meet­ing, would be in­formed about the frame­work in that re­gard.

Afridi ap­pre­ci­ated the mea­sures but he em­pha­sised that sick units should be sup­ported so as to cater to lo­cal re­quire­ments as well as ex­port-ori­ented units.

Sen­a­tor Di­lawar in­formed the com­mit­tee that the Trade De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Pak­istan (TDAP) could not hold even a sin­gle meet­ing so far. He said that he had sought dif­fer­ent de­tails from TDAP, which had not been pro­vided yet.

Sen­a­tor Afridi said that TDAP was an im­por­tant or­gan­i­sa­tion and its board should hold reg­u­lar meet­ings to pro­ceed on dif­fer­ent is­sues and the peo­ple of Pak­istan should have ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion. He said that a ques­tion had been raised about the trade and com­mer­cial at­tachés posted in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. He added trade and com­mer­cial at­tachés should im­prove their ef­fi­ciency and aware­ness must be cre­ated about Pak­istani prod­ucts in for­eign coun­tries.

The com­mit­tee also in­sisted on the pro­vi­sion of fa­cil­i­ties and ca­pac­ity build­ing of tobacco farmers in Mar­dan, Charsadda and Swabi dis­tricts. Sen­a­tor Di­lawar em­pha­sised that all stake­hold­ers must be taken into con­fi­dence as qual­ity tobacco was pro­duced in those ar­eas and the na­tional ex­che­quer got taxes worth bil­lions of ru­pees.

About the ex­port of dates, the com­mit­tee was in­formed that 70% of dry dates had been ex­ported to In­dia but due to sus­pen­sion of trade with Delhi, farmers were fac­ing huge losses.

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