Source: Times of India
14 June 2015
MUMBAI: As the eighth round of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement take place in Kyoto, Japan this week, farmer’s groups, trade unions, civil society and patient groups are urging the Indian government to halt the negotiations, make the negotiating texts public and hold consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, in light of the potential negative impact this agreement could have on access to medicines, livelihood of farmers, quality public services and overall social and economic development of the country.
Patient groups including Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) along with International Treatment Preparedness Coalition- South Asia rallied outside the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi to send a signal about the dangers the trade deal poses to access to medicines.
Started in May 2013, the RCEP is being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, and six trading partners, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Further, international medical humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Thursday launched a global campaign, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stand strong in the face of intensifying pressure from US, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union to change India’s laws in ways that would severely restrict the country’s ability to produce affordable medicines, upon which millions of people around the world rely.
Over 80% of the medicines MSF uses to treat over 200,000 people living with HIV in its projects are Indian generics, while it also sources essential medicines from India to treat other diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria. India also produces affordable versions of medicines for non-communicable diseases, now considered too expensive even for healthcare systems in developed countries.