Islamabad, April 29
Pakistan could take the lead in the global salt trade as the local rock salt of Khewra in Punjab province is set to be registered with international trade bodies that will prevent Indian traders to market Pakistani rock salt as Himalayan Pink Salt, according to a media report on Thursday.
Pakistan Minerals Development Corporation (PMDC), designated by the Cabinet as the registrant agency for rock salt produced in the country, has finalised requirements for registration of rock salt with the Geographical Indications (GI) registry, under the management and control of Intellectual Property Organisationof Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan).
After the registration with IPO-Pakistan, the country will file for registration at foreign markets which will prevent Indian traders to market Pakistani rock salt as Himalayan Pink Salt, the Dawn News reported.
The GI rules were formulated in January this year in the country that had been pending for around two decades, but traders from India took advantage of the vacuum and applied for GI tagging of Basmati rice in the European Union, claiming that it was an agricultural produce of India, the report said.
The PMDC Managing Director (retired Brig) M Iqbal Malik said Pakistan has branded the Khewra salt as “Pink Rock Salt” and its specifications were being finalised.
“Currently, rock salt was neither a lucrative commodity for exports nor was Pakistan selling the rock salt as a commercial and industrial product,” he said, adding, “soon after the GI tagging at international markets, Pakistan will be in a position to sign long term sale contracts with buyers abroad.”
Incidentally the term, Himalayan Pink Salt has been used by Indian traders for global marketing of rock salt mined from Khewra, however, after trade of non-essential items with India was suspended around two years back, salt exports to India were also suspended.
Since, there is no sale policy regarding rock salt, most of the rock salt was exported in rock form to the Middle East.
A Karachi-based salt trader Ahmed Khan said there is a very high global demand for rock salt, not only as table salt but even as a healing agent by massage centres of Korea and Thailand to other industrial usages.
He claimed that salt bought by Indian traders in the UAE was re-exported in small and attractive packs at a very high price to the European Union, the US and even the far East, with labels showing that this salt was a product of the Indian Himalayas. PTI