Crucial meet on Monday to discuss IPR issues

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Friday, April 18, 2014
Published On: 23:33:53 PM

Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth has called a meeting of top bureaucrats on Monday to chalk out a strategy to deal with the IPR (intellectual property rights) issues being raised by the U.S.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of U.S. industry, particularly, from the pharmaceuticals sector, and trade lobbies putting pressure on their government to put India under the ‘Priority Foreign Country’ list for IPR, which may lead to trade sanctions on Indian firms by America.

Indian Ambassador to U.S. S. Jaishankar has suggested that the Indian government should engage with U.S. pharma companies to deliberate on the matter. American companies are alleging that the Indian IPR regime is not compliant with international norms, and discriminates U.S. firms.

'Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh has requested the Cabinet Secretary to convene a meeting on the issue, and the meeting is scheduled for Monday,' sources told PTI.

Besides Mr. Seth and Ms. Singh, other officials who would attend the meeting include Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher, DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant and Health Secretary Lov Kumar Verma.

According to sources, as part of trade sanctions, the U.S. may consider withdrawing the benefits under the scheme of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which provides reduced tariffs for Indian goods entering the U.S. markets.

'The withdrawal of GSP benefits may impact exports of the MSME sector to the U.S. However, the move would not impact Indian exporters much,' they said.

Earlier, India has made it clear that it would drag the U.S. to WTO if America includes it in that list.

Officials have said the demand is completely unfair as India’s IPR regime is compliant with global laws, including the World Trade Organization.

Under the U.S. Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to those which deny adequate and effective protection of IPR or fair and equitable market access to the US persons relying on IPR protection.

The Obama administration had been strongly criticising India’s investment climate and IPR laws, especially in the pharmaceuticals and solar sectors.

American pharma companies had objected to India’s move to issue a compulsory licence in March, 2012 to Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell cancer-treatment drug ‘’Nexavar’ at a price over 30 times lower than that charged by patent-holder Bayer Corporation. Pharma exports increased by 10 per cent to $14.6 billion in 2012-13, with shipments to the U.S. accounting for about 26 per cent of these exports.

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