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US-India trade talks hit IP snag, put off until after Indian election

THE United States has deferred trade talks on intellectual property rights with India until after its general election following a decision by the US Trade Representative not to label the country "worst offender" in its annual scorecard.

US-India trade talks hit IP snag, put off until after Indian election
08 May 2014 - 08:27
US-India trade talks hit IP snag, put off until after Indian election

THE United States has deferred trade talks on intellectual property rights with India until after its general election following a decision by the US Trade Representative not to label the country "worst offender" in its annual scorecard.

The US pharmaceutical industry demands India be classified as "priority foreign country" needs to tighten lax rules on patents, copyrights and IP along with China and eight other countries.

Bilateral trade between the countries is way below it potential at US$100 billion annually when it should be five times this, said Washington.

The decision to hold off with imposing sanctions on the US's third largest trading partner in 2012-2013 is "very sensible", said Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher.

Mr Kher defended India's right to overall patents in special cases particularly key for allowing access to affordable medicines for its population of which only 15 per cent have health insurance cover. 

Such "compulsory licences" are to comply with the WTO and the the deal on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), but should be seen as an exception to the rule rather than a "routine manner of importing technology into the country," cited Mr Kher, according to Reuters.

The compulsory licence awarded to Indian company to copy Bayer's cancer medicine, Nexavar saw its price drop 90 per cent. 

Many do not view an emerging market such as India as breaking rules but providing life-saving medication to the poor.

Mr Kher will meet with US counterpart in June or July to discuss bilateral trade with the autumn set for review. 

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