India likely to drag US to WTO if classified ‘Priority Country’

February 25, 2014 11:34 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:22 pm IST - New Delhi

India is likely to drag the U.S. to WTO if America includes it in the ‘Priority Foreign Country’ list for intellectual property rights, a development that could further escalate trade tensions between the two.

The U.S. industry and trade lobbies are putting pressure on their government to put India under this list, sources said.

Officials here said the demand is “completely wrong” as India’s intellectual property rights are compliant with global laws, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Under the U.S. Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to those which deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or fair and equitable market access to the U.S. persons relying on IPR protection.

Inclusion into this list leads to trade sanctions.

“If the U.S. does that, then India probably will have no option but drag them to the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism,” an official said.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), a quasi-judicial federal American agency, has already initiated an investigation against India’s trade and investment policies.

It has alleged that New Delhi’s laws discriminate against the U.S. companies.

“The country’s IPR (intellectual property rights) laws are fully compliant with WTO. If America has any issue with our laws, they can raise that in the WTO,” the official said.

To follow up the probe, USITC officials have sought a meeting with Indian officials. However, the government has rejected the request.

India and the U.S. are fighting several cases in WTO’s dispute panel. Recently, the U.S. has dragged India on the country’s national solar programme.

The Obama administration had been strongly criticising India’s investment climate and IPR laws, especially in the pharmaceuticals and solar sectors.

The USITC wanted to meet Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, 15 secretaries and some joint secretary level officers from ministries including DIPP, Animal Husbandry, Health, Telecommunication, Commerce and Health.

American pharma companies had objected India’s move to issue a compulsory license (CL) in March, 2012 to Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell cancer-treatment drug ‘Nexavar’ at a price over 30 times lower than charged by patent-holder Bayer Corporation.

The USITC has raised this issue besides the rejection of patent to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sprycel and Novartis’ Gleevec. It has stated that Indian IPR laws are not Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) compliant under the WTO.

Swiss pharma major Novartis AG had lost a legal battle for getting its blood cancer drug Gleevec patented in India and to restrain Indian companies from manufacturing generic drugs. The Supreme Court had rejected the multinational company’s plea last year.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.