Fortune India - 2 May 2022
Govt to seek IPR views from stakeholders for FTAs
By Joe Mathew
Intellectual property rights (IPR) has been one of the most contentious issues before India during trade talks with countries such as the U.S. and the European Union (EU) in the past.
With a handful of free trade agreements (FTA) with key trade partners under negotiation, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will seek stakeholder views on intellectual property rights (IPR) related issues to firm up its position during such discussions in the coming months.
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the nodal agency within the ministry to carry out IPR negotiations, has called for the stakeholder meeting on May 2 in Delhi to take stock of India’s IPR position, it is learnt.
The topics of discussion will cover almost every sensitive issue related to IPR including the extension of patents for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, data exclusivity and the IPR flexibilities currently incorporated within India’s patent laws.
The DPITT will meet pharmaceutical and agro-chemical industry representatives, officials from related ministries like chemicals and fertilisers, health and agriculture, IPR experts, patent office officials and civil society representatives, industry sources said.
The stakeholder meeting turns significant as IPR has been one of the most contentious issues before India during bilateral trade talks with advanced countries like the USA and economic blocs like the European Union (EU) in the past. While India has so far resisted the move to expand the scope of IPR protection beyond what has been its obligation under the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, developed countries have sought TRIPS plus provisions to ensure market exclusivity and IPR protection for products developed by the industries in their respective geographies beyond the period of protection offered under Indian laws today.
While India’s most recent early harvest FTA deals were with UAE and Australia, the forthcoming FTA talks are more crucial in terms of IPR. While the India-UK FTA is expected to be finalized in the coming months, the government is keen to have FTAs with countries like Canada, Israel and blocs like Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the EU in the near future.
The discussions on topics like data exclusivity are expected to see agrochemical and pharmaceutical MNCs on one side and domestic industry on the other side of the debate.