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India snubs USA: Won’t be part of your unilateral IPR probe

A day after the US Trade Representative (USTR) released its Special 301 report, which kept India out of the Priority Foreign Country list, Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said that all issues between the two countries, including those related to IPR, should be discussed at the The US-India Trade Policy Forum, the principal platform for dialogue between the countries, with focus groups on agriculture, investment, IPR, services and tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Kher said he would meet Deputy USTR Wendy Cutler in late June or early July to discuss trade-related issues. The USTR on Wednesday kept India out of the Priority Foreign Country list, the worst classification for countries considered to have inadequate IP laws, and said it would hold discussions with the next government on IPRs. ‘It appears to be a wise decision on the part of the US to not hasten to get into a decision which would have adversely affected bilateral trade relationship and a larger economic engagement between the two countries particularly at a time when we are in the process of a political transition,’ Kher told reporters here.

‘They have deferred the process but that does not mean that India agreed to be party to the investigations. Let that be very clear...India has clearly conveyed to the US that the government of India will not subject itself to the investigations,’ he added. On the USTR announcement that it will conduct out-of-cycle reviews to promote engagement on IPR challenges with India, Kher said that this is a unilateral probe by the USA, which India has not committed to in the WTO or other accord. ‘It is a unilateral process under their law,’ he said.

The secretary said India has addressed all concerns of US pharma companies with regard to compulsory licenses (CL), ever-greening of patents, data exclusivity and patent linkage. ‘India clearly believes that it is compliant with its commitments under Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and India has used the flexibilities which are available to the WTO members and that is entirely within the remit and commitments made by India under WTO agreements,’ he said.  ‘As far as CL is concerned, it is entirely within the flexibilities that India exercised that authority. CL is not an anathema,’ he said.

UK plotting ‘dangerous’ drugs attack against India, China?

New Delhi:
A British minister has sought action against scientists in India and China who are allegedly producing dangerous new medicines called ‘legal highs’ to be sold on United Kingdom streets. Norman Baker, a United Kingdom Home Office minister, said that scientists in India and China are creating new drugs on a ‘weekly basis’ and the United Kingdom government needs to find new ways to deal with them. ‘We’re in a race against the chemists of new substances being produced almost on a weekly basis in places like China and India,’ Baker told the BBC.

“They then come in here and are inaccurately and unhelpfully called ‘legal highs’ — some of them are actually illegal. They are certainly not necessarily safe and the word legal implies that they are safe. And people are consuming them and last year I think it was 68 people who died, according to coroners reports, from the ingestion of these substances. My objective is to minimise the harm from these substances to the public at large,” Baker said.

The number of deaths from drugs known as ‘legal highs’, such as mephedrone, known as ‘Miaow Miaow’, reached the highest number ever recorded last year. Ministers are consulting on ways to toughen regulation of the drugs.

‘We’re dealing with a situation where there’s already a vast array of substances being sold on our streets, in our shops and that’s what we have to deal with. Many of these are actually quite dangerous,’ Baker warned.

The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said deaths linked with the psychoactive substances jumped from 29 in 2011 to 52 in 2012, an 80 per cent rise. Many of the so-called legal highs — which give the user euphoric sensations similar to the drug Ecstasy — have been made illegal by the Home Office but the law struggles to keep pace with a proliferation of different drug types.
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