US cos push for trade sanctions, India says it will fend off probes

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2014 23:21 IST

American companies on Monday demanded trade sanctions against India as New Delhi pushed back indicating it won’t cooperate with a US probe of its patent laws and practices.

At a public hearing called by the US Trade Representative (USTR), the companies and their associations demanded that India be but in the category of worst Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) offenders.

Led by US and European drug majors, they urged the USTR to name India a Priority Foreign Country in its 2104 Special 301 report, which could end $4.5-billion worth of duty-free Indian imports to the US.

“In the last two years more than a dozen patents have been revoked, compulsory licensed or threatened to be compulsory licensed, or otherwise rendered unenforceable (in India),” said Lila Feisee of BIO, an association of biotech companies.

The US chamber of commerce’s Jasper MacSlarrow said “given the rapidly deteriorating climate in India, we urge USTR to designate India as a Priority Foreign Country”.

India has issued only one compulsory license — for Bayer’s Nexavar — and denied only one patent — for Novartis’s Gleevec — but trade bodies believe more is coming. India has dismissed these fears as unfounded.

Their US’ worry is that other countries may start following India — which they call “spillover” effect. They cited a South African drug policy draft as proof.

New Delhi has indicated that it won’t cooperate with the probe of its trade practices. India did not depose at a two-day hearing conducted by the commission earlier in the month. And it will not allow commission’s staff to meet officials during their upcoming visit.

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