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Now, Indian industry raises its voice against US

High chances that US in its Special 301 report will put India as 'Priority Foreign Country'

Nayanima Basu  |  New Delhi 

The India-US trade tiff seems to be far from being over. Now, the Indian industry has strongly raised its voice against the decision of the US government to label India as 'Priority Foreign Country' in its Special 301 2014 Report.

There are high chances that US in its Special 301 report, which is scheduled to be released on April 30, this year will once again put India in the list which is meant for those countries which the US believes has severely violated intellectual property rights (IPR) law and patent regime.

"The effort being made to declare India as 'Priority Foreign Country' under the Special 301 of US Trade Act of 1974, is a unilateral action to create pressure on India to increase IPR protection beyond the TRIPS Agreement and aims to protect private corporate interests over national interests," the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a statement today.

Earlier this week, commerce and industry Anand Sharma had clearly said that India is fully compliant of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

FICCI and other industry chambers also said that the country has a "well-established legislative, administrative and judicial framework to safeguard IPRs which meets its obligations under TRIPS, and has withheld the test of severe international scrutiny."

It even highlighted the fact that during the WTO has found India's IPR laws to be adequate during its two Trade Policy Reviews in 2007 and 2011.

FICCI said that, contrary to what US has alleged, India has never discriminated foreign companies against domestic firms and a number of Indian patents have also been cancelled.

It pointed out that there is increasing number of cases being decided by the US Supreme Court relating to patents and infringements, revocation and other disputes relating to IPRs and the US Federal courts have upheld only 39 patents in 283 cases between 2007 and 2011.

A particular section of the American industry, especially in the pharmaceutical sector, had been extremely vocal against India's IPR and patent laws. Their voices have increased ever since India issued a compulsory licence to Natco Pharma in March 2012 to produce a cancer drug, the patent holder for which was Bayer, in order to make the drug accessible and affordable.

FICCI said such a grant of compulsory license was permitted under Indian law as well as under TRIPS. It further said that US has also invoked compulsory license to curb anti competitive activities and making available commodities at an affordable price to its citizens.

The US Trade Representative will take the final decision in April. In the event it does label India as 'Priority Foreign Country' then it might lead to withdrawal of preferential tariffs and even trade sanctions if matters worsen.

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First Published: Thu, March 06 2014. 17:06 IST
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