A day after India deferred trade talks with European Union (EU), protesting the ban on 700 generic drugs, the bloc said the ban was based on scientific and not trade considerations.
“The Commission stresses that the decision concerning a ban on 700 generic drugs was based on scientific and not trade considerations and in accordance with the advice of the scientific committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA),” Daniel Rosario, European Commission Spokesperson for Trade said in an email response to The Hindu.
India said the decision was taken as the government is “disappointed and concerned by the action of EU in imposing legally binding ban on the sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences, Hyderabad” on 16 July, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The meeting between chief trade negotiators of the two sides was scheduled for end of this month.
“The Commission takes note of the press release issued by the Indian Government about the deferral of jointly agreed talks between the Chief Negotiators on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement. The Commission would like to stress that the purpose of this meeting at Chief Negotiators level was to explore the possibility of resuming the FTA talks, and was not meant to constitute in anyway a full-fledged negotiation round. The Commission remains committed to continue working towards conclusion of an agreement between India and the EU that will be acceptable to both sides. For this reasons, the Commission hopes that a solution will be found to the current deferral,” European Commission Spokesperson for Trade said in his email in reaction to India’s action.
India and EU have been negotiating for the proposed free-trade agreements since 2007. The talks have seen set backs due to differences regarding lack of access for Indians to EU’s labour market and high taxes imposed on liquor and car imports from Europe. The latest development comes as yet another setback for the talks to progress further.
The country could lose about $1-1.2 billion worth of drug exports because of the decision taken by the European Commission to ban the drugs, according to Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil).
India exported $15.4 billion worth of pharmaceutical products in 2014-15, with Europe accounting for $3 billion, or 20 per cent of the total. Out of the $3 billion, exports of generic medicines constituted about $1 billion and drug ingredients accounted for the rest.