[Ip-health] IP concerns crop up for India in regional trade meet, health sector faces big hazard

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Thu Dec 4 10:46:36 PST 2014


Worry for Indian health sector. AP

Several of the countries negotiating the RCEP are currently also
negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with the US.
According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), leaked drafts of the IP chapter
show that the US is pushing for harmful provisions that go beyond WTO trade
rules, which are aimed at restricting the ability of governments to
regulate in the interest of the public health and delay the availability of
low-cost generic versions of medicines.

"As countries are putting forth their own proposals for intellectual
property chapter in the RCEP, we are worried that US-style IP provisions
have been tabled that would roll back public health safeguards enshrined in
international law and in India’s patent law," said Anand Grover, director
of the Lawyers Collective.

Japan, a key participant in the TPP agreement negotiations, is now closely
allying with the US in pushing "extremely stringent IP standards" that
undermine and delay access to affordable generic medicines, said MSF. It's
playing a leading role in pushing stringent standards for IP that will
undermine and delay access to affordable generic medicines.

The leaked text of a proposal put forth by the government of Japan to the
Working Group on IP – called the Elements Paper – includes harmful
intellectual property provisions such as patent term extensions, data
exclusivity and lowering of the patentability criteria, which serve to
extend monopoly protection beyond what is required by international
agreements and to create new kinds of monopolies, even after patent-based
monopolies have expired or where they never existed.

“The right to life and health of people in developing countries is at stake
in this deal. We want public assurances from the new Indian Prime Minister,
Mr. Narendra Modi, that any intellectual property provisions that would
restrict generic competition and access to medicines will be taken off the
table by India,” said Loon Gangte, International Treatment Preparedness
Coalition (ITPC) – South Asia. "We will continue to fight until these
damaging provisions are officially and unequivocally out of the agreement."

The RCEP could end up restricting access to life-saving medicines for
millions in developing countries by targeting generic competition in India.
Unless damaging IP provisions are removed by countries like India before
negotiations are finalised, the RCEP agreement – like the TPP - is on track
to become one of the most harmful free trade agreements ever for access to
medicines in developing countries.

Indian government to reject any proposal that would restrict the production
and supply of affordable generic medicines from India.

“India’s production of affordable medicines is a vital lifeline for MSF’s
medical humanitarian operations and millions of people accessing treatment
in developing countries. MSF alone purchases more than 80% of the HIV
medicines used in its operations around the world from producers in India.
Any inclusion of harmful IP provisions in trade agreements with India would
threaten India’s role as the pharmacy for developing countries," said Leena
Menghaney, Regional Head- South Asia, MSF Access Campaign.

On an RTI application, the department of commerce has said that the
negotiations are at an early stage and it was difficult to predict which
sectors would benefit and which sectors could be adversely affected.
Activists point out that the government hasn’t done an appropriate study
before getting into such a crucial negotiation.

Trade specialists point out that since India already has free trade
agreements (FTA) with other countries, this agreement in practical terms
will be an FTA with China. An FTA with China, with which India has a trade
deficit of $ 38 billion, will not be beneficial to India. Industry bodies
such as Ficci and CII have opposed an FTA with China.

More over, India has a growing trade deficit with Asean, Japan and South
Korea. The guiding principle of RCEP clearly shows that it will introduce
further tariff cuts, which will again have an adverse impact on India.

It’s strange that with an avowed "make in India" policy, India is ceding
its limited space. It’s also strange that this government is pursuing the
same trade policies that had been pursued by the UPA.

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