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No compromise in our stance on IPR, says India

Deccan Herald, India

No compromise in our stance on IPR, says India

30 April 2011

Sharp differences with European Union over inking free trade pact

DHNS/New Delhi: India will not compromise its stand or take a position on intellectual property rights (IPR), especially on pharmaceuticals, beyond its domestic law and agreements as mandated under the aegis of the global trade body—World Trade Organization (WTO).

India will adopt this position while negotiating for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) countries. Country’s stands on highly sensitive IPRS issues were formulated by the high-powered Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC) at its meeting Chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.

“The Prime Minister firmly directed that the Indian side shall not take on any obligation beyond the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and domestic law,” Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement after the conclusion of the meeting.

The TERC comprises Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan.

India’s negotiation with the EU for FTA is now in advanced stage. But there are sharp differences between two sides on issues relating to IPRS especially in regard to pharmaceutical products. The EU is asking India to enforce a stricter IPR regime than what is mandated in its domestic laws as well as WTO agreement on TRIPS.

It is being apprehended that if India succumbs to EU pressure the average prices of wide range of life saving drugs will go up. Besides, acceptance of EU conditions will adversely affect Indian pharmaceutical firms, analysts say.

India has been expressing concern over the growing efforts of certain developed countries including EU countries to enact Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), which contains some provisions relating to enforcement of Intellectual Properties (IP) but are not within the WTO framework.

While deliberating on WTO-related IPR issues the TERC meeting reviewed the status of the India’s negotiations with the EU on FTA. The TERC also discussed proposed trade pact with Australia and countries in Southern Africa.

Study group

The committee considered the proposal for a joint study group to examine the policy framework for enhancing the bilateral economic relationship between India and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa – COMESA.

It felt that bilateral trade between India and COMESA had shown “good” growth during the last five years and the trade balance continued to be in India’s favour.

In regard to trade pacts with Australia, the TERC felt while economic activity in each country had led to substantial growth in bilateral trade, tariffs and non-tariff barriers continued to raise the cost of imports, imposing implicit taxes on businesses and consumers alike.

According approval to launch of talks for FTA with Australia, the TERC felt a comprehensive free trade pact between Australia and India would benefit both countries and provide impetus to economic activity and economic welfare in each economy.