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India snubs USA, tells it to stop cribbing on IPR laws

Brushing aside US charges over its intellectual property rights (IPR) laws, India on Friday  said its rules and norms are transparent and fully complying with the WTO regime. ‘India has an extremely well settled, stable and robust IPR regime. Detail rules are there to back them up and (there is) a very strong enforcement mechanism including for dispute resolution,’ Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary Amitabh Kant said here. ‘The Indian Patent Act is the most comprehensive and TRIPS compliant,’ he added.
Kant was addressing members of the American Chamber of Commerce. US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell was present at the AMCHAM meeting. US companies and trade lobby groups allege that India’s IPR regime it is not compliant with international norms and discriminates against them. The Obama administration too has been strongly criticising India’s investment climate and IPR laws, especially in the pharmaceuticals and solar sectors.

‘Highest share of all patents granted in India has gone to US nationals and corporates, almost amounting to 30 per cent of them, and of all the patents granted for pharmaceuticals between 2005 and 2012, more than 85 per cent of them were owned by foreign companies in India,’ Kant said. He said US firms have also raised matters related with the issuance of a compulsory license by India. US pharma firms had objected to India’s move to issue a compulsory licence in March, 2012 to Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell Bayer’s cancer-treatment drug ‘Nexavar’ at a cheaper price.

‘In the last nine years, since TRIPs (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) came into force, India has done only one CL case and in a case where 95 per cent of Indian patients were out of reach of this medicine,’ Kant said. He added that India always welcomes and rewards innovation. However, Kant said that the WTO provides flexibilities to a country under the TRIPs agreement in terms of ensuring that medicines reach people of a country ‘specially where there is a billion plus population’.
‘No democratically elected government can (say) that you have medicines (but) are beyond the reach of the common man...Therefore, a right balance and equilibrium must be found between innovations and our ability to ensure that (affordable) medicines reach the people of India,’ he added. Kant said India and the US should continue their dialogue on the matter with a contractive approach.
‘It is important to look at how we are going to shape the India-US relationship in the future and to my mind it is very critical that we work together,’ he added. Powell said: ‘We ask that India engage with the US, at senior and working levels, to have those difficult discussions on issues such as IPRs and taxation.’ Further, on the visa issues, Kant asked the US to address the concerns of Indian IT companies. . ‘To us it is important that the US Immigration Reform Bill must address the concerns of the Indian IT industry. The US is the champion of the free market...talent movement barriers across borders (do) not benefit anyone and therefore there has to be a free movement (of professionals),’ Kant said.

Time and again, India has expressed its serious concerns over some elements of a US legislation on immigration reforms stating that it would undermine the competitiveness of Indian IT businesses in America. ‘If goods have to have a free movement than talent must also have a free movement,’ the DIPP Secretary added. To increase investment between the two countries, Kant asked the US defence companies to invest in India.
‘We have a policy of 100 per cent FDI in state-of-the-art technology (in defence sector). We will hold the hands of American companies. We will take them forward. US companies need to invest in this sector and also in establishing retail distribution network,’ Kant said. On the Indian economy, he said that to create employment in the country, manufacturing sector needs to grow at 14-15 per cent annually for several decades. ‘This is doable, but it requires to form a completely new ecosystem where we enable business and investors to get into production quick and fast,’ Kant said.

However, he said there is an urgent need to improve ease of doing business in India to attract more investments. ‘There is nothing wrong with the Indian economy excepts three things. First our ability to crack upon ease of doing business, secondly our ability to have consistency and predictability in our policies and thirdly our ability to improve the sentiments of doing business right now,’ he said. If the country gets all these things right, Indian economy would grow at a rate of 9-10 per cent per annum, he added.
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