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"The special focus being given by the incumbent government to regularize salt trade and develop a branding mechanism to sell the commodity in the international market at competitive prices will definitely give a new impetus to the industry," said Ismail Sattar, a prominent salt exporter and chief executive officer of the salt manufacturing company HubSalt Pakistan.

by Raheela Nazir

ISLAMABAD, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Muhammad Irfan, 38, was keenly supervising the crafting of decoration items made of the famous Himalayan pink salt at his factory located in Khushab, a district in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.

Thousands of people in Khushab are linked with the salt industry as the district is rich in minerals including huge deposits of salt, he said.

"We are associated with this business since 1990. Initially, we have been manufacturing edible salt, but over the past few years we have started making other products made of Himalayan rock salt considering their high demand, both locally and abroad," Irfan, the owner of M&S Salt Factory, told Xinhua.

The Himalayan pink salt has been a preferred choice for use in daily diet by people around the globe due to its health benefits, he said, adding that products like lamps, candle holders and tiles made from the pink salt are also greatly adored as they have seen a substantial boost in exports to the United States, Europe and the Gulf states.

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Talking about the difference between the ordinary salt and the pink salt, Irfan said that the most special aspect about the pink salt is its color which makes it unique and popular in Pakistan and many other countries, adding "the pink variety of salt is only found in Pakistan."

Pakistan possesses one of the world's largest salt deposits stretching over 209 km lying in areas between the eastern district of Jhelum and northwestern Kohat district. The country is also home to the second-largest salt mine in the world, the Khewra Salt Mine in Jhelum.

According to officials from the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, Pakistan's annual export of salt totals around 400,000 tons.

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In an effort to curb the unauthorized use of Pakistan's indigenous products by other countries, Pakistan has recently announced to register its pink salt as the Geographical Indications (GI).

The registration will serve as a potential economic tool to promote and enhance national and international trade of Pakistan and earn revenue, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production, and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said recently, adding that this will encourage and motivate Pakistani producers to expand their business at a global level.

Pakistan has enacted the Geographical Indications Act, 2020 last year to protect its indigenous products, combating counterfeiting and ensuring premium prices in foreign markets.

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In a conversation with Xinhua, Ismail Sattar, a prominent salt exporter and chief executive officer of the salt manufacturing company HubSalt Pakistan, said that his business has been profitable and is expected to see further growth after recent steps taken by the government to standardize the pink salt industry of Pakistan.

"The special focus being given by the incumbent government to regularize salt trade and develop a branding mechanism to sell the commodity in the international market at competitive prices will definitely give a new impetus to the industry," he said.

In the past, many illegal local traders exported the indigenous crude pink salt to other countries, which would then brand it as their produce and earn huge profit, but the huge profit otherwise could have been earned by Pakistan, Sattar said.

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Pakistan remains at the 20th place in the list of salt exporting countries despite the fact that Pakistan is among the biggest salt producers, the salt exporter said, blaming the situation on illegal regional trade and absence of the GI.

Meesaq Arif, executive director of the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan, told Xinhua that Pakistan's national economy has suffered a huge loss as "any country can sell Himalayan pink salt with their own tag, but once it is protected under rules, no one but Pakistan will be able to sell it."

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