Lacing exports with GI tags

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KARACHI:

Do you know what is common between Pakistan Basmati Rice, Hunza / Ziarat Apples, Multan Chaunsa Mango, Kashmir Pashmina, Khewra Pink Salt, Sialkot Sporting and Surgical Goods and Sahiwal Cattle?

These are goods produced in parts of Pakistan and are unique. They are not produced anywhere in the world. But does the world recognize their status?

This is important to know because unless the world recognizes them as such, Pakistan cannot market them in world markets, claiming that they are produced only in this country.

In other words, Pakistan needs the Geographical Indication (GI) label for these and many other unique products – and even services like the famous truck art.

Once Pakistan starts to market these goods and services to the world under the GI label to be issued by the country, but not disputed and conflicted by any other producer from any other part of the world, the country can gain a lot of foreign currency. .

The Ministry of Commerce has identified two dozen Pakistani products, including Basmati rice, which are unique enough to earn the GI label. The question is, how will they get the GI tag?

Well, in 2020 Pakistan passed the Geographical Indications Registration and Protection Act and since then efforts have been made to provide these products with the GI label they deserve.

To this end, the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) has already started the process of establishing the register of geographical indications.

Currently, Trademark Register Agents are busy doing the background work for the Geographical Indications Register, which is expected to start operating under IPO-Pakistan in fiscal year 2021-2022 in Classes.

It is difficult to assess the possible volumetric gains in exports after the 24 products that deserve the GI label obtain them. But given that the list of such items includes export heavyweights like basmati rice, mangoes, and sporting and surgical items, it’s safe to assume that the total annual earnings can reach $ 1 billion or even exceed it.

The combined exports of these three categories of items currently amount to nearly $ 2 billion. However, the total export earnings of the other 21 items are less than half a billion dollars.

Once the GI label is applied to everyone, Pakistan’s export earnings of less than $ 2.5 billion from these two dozen products can reach $ 3.5 billion per year in the very first year. application of the GI label.

In the future, the increase in cumulative export earnings will largely depend on how the Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan’s foreign trade missions and exporters manage to market these GI products globally.

Generally speaking, a product with the GI label – not internationally contested and accepted as such – sells for a much higher unit price than similar products without a GI label.

Lacing exports with GI labels, rolling out attractive and powerful brands and marketing them aggressively is a definite boost to exports.

Over the past two decades, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh have all done this. And this has resulted in an increase in their export earnings on several occasions.

Brand power

In Pakistan, around ten textile exporters have created and maintain their brand power. Among them are Afroze, Alkaram, Artistic Milliners, Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries, Feroze 1888 Textile Mills, Gul Ahmed, Garibsons, Interloop, Liberty Textiles, Nishat, Soorty Enterprises, Style Textiles and Younus Textile Mills.

According to the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, nearly all of these companies recouped more than $ 100 million in exports in the past fiscal year.

Similar brand power needs to be created and maintained in the exports of rice, fish, seafood and meat as well.

But unfortunately in these export categories we don’t see enough branding. Seafood exporters and the government should strive to obtain the GI label for certain types of fish that are only found in Pakistani rivers and Pakistan territorial waters.

In addition, the seafood processing industry needs to be modernized. Technical assistance can be sought from Indonesia which has achieved many milestones in seafood exports over the past decade, with the result that the unit export price of its fish and seafood is much higher than that of Pakistani products.

Coming back to the issue of lacing exports with GI labels, two aspects need to be put into perspective.

The indifferent attitude of government agencies towards obtaining GI labels for potential Pakistani products not only prevents export earnings from growing rapidly and sustainably, it also robs the economy of a more jobs in rural and semi-urban areas, and inhibits the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

More unique products

Some of the unique products from Pakistan which are the best candidates to earn the GI Label include Sindhi Topi and Ajrak, Truck Art, Chitrali Embroidery, Gujranwala Pottery, Multan Blue Pottery, Colorful Gujranwala Pottery, Swat Peaches and Peshawari Chappal (sandles) – and perhaps more importantly Kalash dress.

Do you notice that these products come from all the provinces and federative units of Pakistan?

If they actually obtain the GI label and their exports start, rural and semi-urban areas of all provinces and the federating units that produce them would benefit from an economic boost in terms of employment opportunities and higher income levels.

But even after obtaining the IG label for them and other unique products, Pakistan will have to do much more to promote manufacturing and trading SMEs to ensure high and sustainable growth of these export products decorated with IG as well. than other similar items.

Unfortunately, despite the great demands of each government regarding the promotion of the SME sector, a very large number of small and medium-sized units continue to operate in the undocumented sector.

Even among those operating in the formal sector, few succeed in obtaining bank financing. Bank financing for SMEs remains pathetically low.

According to statistics from the State Bank (for May 2021), bank financing to SMEs represents only 8.8% of total bank financing to private sector companies.

THE WRITER IS A MECHANICAL ENGINEER AND MADE OF MASTERS


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