Source: Business Standard
India was Tuesday urged by the US to look beyond intellectual property rights (IPR) and compulsory licensing in affordable healthcare, and to address concerns like tariff reduction, distribution of medicines and insurance coverage.
“There is a lot that goes into access to affordable healthcare beyond intellectual property rights, beyond patents, beyond compulsory licenses,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said after a meeting of the India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) here.
“Issue of access to affordable medicine is not just IPR. We did discuss IPR in broad terms. On some of the more challenging issues like pharmaceuticals, we need to take a broad-based view of access to affordable healthcare and promotion of innovation,” he added.
The TPF meeting, held after more than four years, was chaired by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“Patents, copyright, trade secrets. Piracy, counterfeiting, compulsory licensing. These are challenging issues, but dealing with them directly is critical if India is to play a leadership role in the knowledge economy. And in that regard, we have great interest in the ongoing review of India’s Intellectual Property Rights Policy,” Froman said.
As part of its annual Special 301 report, the US has kept India in its “Priority Watch List” for having an allegedly weak IPR regime.
The TPF was preceded by the first meeting Monday of the working group on intellectual property rights.
Tuesday’s meeting was also attended by commerce secretary Rajeev Kher, secretary in the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) Amitabh Kant, additional secretary commerce J.S. Deepak and DIPP joint secretary D.V. Prasad, among others.
“It was a very good meeting. They have understood our position. The dialogue will continue. It’s not that the dialogue will take place after four years gap, it will be more often. We have expressed all concerns and addressed their issues,” Kher said.
According to the joint statement issued after the meeting, the commerce minister briefed the US trade representative on India’s work on a new intellectual property rights (IPR) policy which would stimulate innovation across sectors in the country.
India also sought greater access for traditional Indian medicine keeping in view the need for affordable healthcare.
India also raised the issue of expanding the scope of professional visas such as the H1-B and L1 for easier access to US by Indian professionals.
Moreover, India urged the US to expedite the social security totalisation agreement for the Indian professionals based out of America, the statement added.
Both sides have set a target of achieving $500 billion worth of trade in goods and services from the current $100 billion.