India is the major producer of rice in the world. Agriculture is the backbone of the country. The covid-19 has put the sector into turmoil and turbulence. The government has announced various supporting packages to the sector to fight the aftereffects of the pandemic. The country’s agricultural exports increased to 18.6% and imports slightly increased by 3% in the first 11 months of the last fiscal year.
The proposed GI agreement between India and the EU is expected to increase basmati rice exports to $500 million from $250 million within 1-2 years. In contradiction to this, some others think that the shipments will not see much increase unless buyers other than the UK are ready to purchase. The Indian shipment of basmati rice to the EU including the UK during April-January of the previous year is $ 245.4 million. The share of basmati rice exported to The UK is around half of the exports to the EU and this country comes under the top 10 destinations which prefer Indian aromatic rice. During the ten months of FY 2021, the shipment to the UK was about 1, 48,500 tonnes.
S Chandrasekaran (a trade policy analyst and author of a book on basmati GI) said that apart from basmati rice GI is expected that in the textiles and handicraft industry. However, the use of EU products in India will happen soon but Indian products are required to be processed. Last week, India and the EU agreed to improve bilateral trade and investment relationships to enter into a beneficial trade agreement for eight years. Also, they agreed to discuss two covenants related to GI and investment protection. EU applied for GI registration of 121 products in India and most of them come under the categories of wine and spirits. Indian products belong to categories such as handicrafts, agriculture, food, etc. Hence, Chandrasekaran thinks that the proposed GI agreement will differ due to differences in culture and product categories. Despite the covid-19 crisis, there is an increase in exports of agricultural and related products in FY21. The statistics show that the foreign trade balance in agriculture for the period April-February increased by 41% in the last fiscal.