Source : Hindustan Times, 1 May, 2015
Based on positive developments in the past year, the US Trade Representative is keeping India on the priority watch list of countries with suspect intellectual property rights regimes.
The USTR said in its annual Special 301 report released Thursday India has taken steps that show “the Modi Administration is engaged and is examining key IPR issues”.
But India is not off the hook, entirely.
“We are not announcing another OCR at this time, but will monitor progress over the coming months, and are prepared to take further action, if necessary,” the USTR said.
OCR is Out of Cycle Review that the USTR orders to expressly monitor a country’s progress on IPR and other trade issues under threat of punitive action in the absence of desirable outcomes.
India underwent an OCR in 2014, under tremendous pressure from powerful US trade bodies that were demanding India be declared a Priority Foreign Country, one of worst offenders.
USTR’s annual Special 301 report puts trading partners that the US has issues with in three categories — watch list, priority watch list and priority foreign country list.
China, Russia, Pakistan, Chile and Argentina were some of those on the priority list with India. While close US ally Canada was on the watch list with 24 others.
India came out relatively unscathed from the 2014 OCR, and only not because Prime minister Narendra Modi has struck up a good personal rapport with President Barack Obama.
It may have played a role, but India won the reprieve by initiating a series of measures to show it was indeed keen to address concerns about its IPR and trade regimes.
Initiating efforts to put together a National IPR police was one, which was noted by the Special 301 report under the category of observations titled “Best practices by trading partners”.
“In late 2014, India initiated a process of soliciting widespread stakeholder input regarding its development of a draft National IPR Policy,” the report noted, adding, “USTR encourages continued engagement with interested stakeholders as India continues to develop this policy framework.”
US trade bodies too have toned down their criticism of India. The powerful US chamber of commerce, for instance, is not demanding India be declared a priority foreign country.