Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman’s re-assertion in the Lok Sabha on Monday, on India’s IPR position, assumes significance given that this year’s Special 301 Report of the US Trade Representative (USTR) is due to be released by end of this month, if not sooner.
The Minister’s written reply to question on the first day that Lok Sabha resumed, reiterated her previous statement that the government is committed to fully utilising all the flexibilities provided under the TRIPS agreement to protect (the) domestic pharmaceutical sector from pressure exerted by the foreign countries.
The reply went on to point out that FDI is permitted in the brownfield pharma sector through government approval route only, implying that restricting FDI in the sector was one more measuring of insulating it from external pressure.
Her reply emphasised the government’s stance that the USTR’s Special 301 Report is a unilateral measure to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the TRIPS agreement and that under the WTO regime, any dispute between two countries needs to be referred to the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO and unilateral actions are not tenable under this regime. Special 301 which is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country is inconsistent with the established norms of the WTO.