Ahead of Obama visit, US rules out embargo, lets India off IPR hook

Source: Times of India

14th December 2014

NEW DELHI: The fear of US sanctions over India’s intellectual property rights regime has lifted, at least for the moment, with Washington giving a clean chit after a special review.

In a statement issued late on Friday (American time), the US Trade Representative cited recent steps to remove the threat that had created considerable acrimony between the two governments. “Over the last few months, there have been multiple engagements with government of India officials at the staff and senior levels on the broad range of issues of concern to the United States and to US stakeholders.

India has made useful commitments in recent months, including to institutionalize high-level engagement on IP issues, to pursue a specific work program and to deepen cooperation and information exchange with the United States on IP-related issues under the US-India Trade Policy Forum,” the USTR said.

The move comes weeks before US president Barack Obama lands in Delhi as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade, the first American president to attend the event. It follows the first meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum in four years for which USTR Michael Froman flew to Delhi last month. “It is a positive development and it’s the right track to follow.

India has a well-established legislative, administrative and judicial framework to safeguard IPR, which meet its TRIPS commitments while utilizing the flexibilities provided in the international regime to address developmental concerns,” industrial policy and promotion secretary Amitabh Kant told TOI, when contacted.

For last few years, the pharma industry has been lobbying hard with US authorities to declare India a rogue country for adopting a policy that has waived patent rights for a cancer drug on the grounds of affordability besides disallowing patents for several medicines, citing lack of innovation. The government has countered this by saying that the policies adopted by it are in line with India’s international commitments.

Apart from the out-of-cycle review by the USTR, which could have led to sanctions for lax IPR regime, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) is also conducting an investigation on India’s policies, including those related to duties and investment. The government has, however, refused to participate in either exercise and has termed them unilateral actions.

While the immediate threat of sanctions has gone away, the USTR said that it is keeping tabs on India’s IPR policies and urged “India to further strengthen and deepen our bilateral engagement on IP issues in the coming months and beyond”.

This entry was posted in BITS, IP Rights, IPR policy, Out of Cycle Review (OCR), Patents, TRIPS, US International Trade Commission (USITC), US pressure on India, USTR 301 report, WTO and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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