KARACHI: The usage of Geographical Indication tags shows an increase in exports, and Pakistan is initiating GI registrations to boost the marketing and branding of products in the international market.
A Geographical Indication tag grants products manufactured in specific locations as unique and represents the products with a qualified status. Countries can use this tag to market the products in the global market, with the mark that attests to their production in the specific nation.
Pakistan has a range of unique manufactured goods such as Hunza’s Ziarat apples, Kashmiri Pashmina, surgical and sports goods of Sialkot, Multan’s Chaunsa mango, Sahiwal cattle, and the pink salt in Khewra. These goods are produced in specific localities and are not cultivated anywhere in the world. However, they are not recognized in the global market as unique and specific to Pakistan. Thus, the usage of GI tags in Pakistan can allow the country to verify its claim to the product’s production if it is not opposed and conflicted by any other producer of a different location. Pakistan can gain a lot of foreign transactions using unique products and services like the popular truck art.
The Ministry of Commerce has classified approximately two dozen products such as the Basmati rice qualified enough to fit the criteria of the GI tag. In 2020, Pakistan introduced the GI Registration and Protection Act, which initiated the process of providing these unique products with the GI tag and making efforts to grant the products recognization in the global market.
The Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) is responsible for instituting the Geographical Indication Registry process. At present, the tag registry administrators are occupied carving out the foundations for the GI Registry. The registry is estimated to commence operating beneath IPO-Pakistan in the prevailing fiscal year of 2021 to 2022.
The usage of GI tags of these two dozen products is estimated to bring a rise of export income to $3.5 billion annually from the initial year of utilization. This is a massive gain from the preceding export income that is less than $2.5 billion. This change in export income depends on the Ministry of Commerce and Pakistan’s foreign trade management of marketing the GI-marked products around the world.
A product that has the GI tag commonly carries a greater per-unit cost compared to similar products without the GI tags. Especially, if the GI tags do not include any global conflict and are accepted unanimously. Countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh are prime examples of utilizing GI tags and multiplying their export income in the previous two decades.
Pakistan’s export already includes many powerful brands such as Alkaram, Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries, Gul Ahmed, Feroze 1888 Textile Mills, Nishat, Younus Textile Mills, and Soorty Enterprises. The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association states that the majority of the branded companies attained more than $100 million in exports in the just-ended fiscal year. Unfortunately, there are a few branded exports in other potential GI tag categories like the seafood industry. More potential products for GI tags are Ajraks, Kalash dress, Peshawari sandals, Sindhi topic, and peaches from Swat.
Potential is abundant for GI tags in Pakistan, but the obstacles towards administering them are crucial to identify as well. After establishing GI tags, the promotion and marketing of manufacturing products and trading small and middle enterprises will be a challenge. Pakistan has to guarantee high and sustainable extension of these GI painted products and other similar products too. There is also very little promotion of the SME sector as a particularly huge amount of small and medium units proceed to operate in the sector. The bank financing of the SME sector shows concern for their growth and development. The statistics of the State Bank in May 2021, state that 8.8% of the total bank financing accounts for SME businesses.
The GI tags are vital for Pakistan’s increase in export incomes but many factors impacting the GI tags registration and management need to be identified and resolved for Pakistan to officially enter the global market with GI tagged products and the potential to raise the export income generation.