[Ip-health] European Union launches WTO cases on ICT and pharmaceuticals

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sat Apr 6 10:47:07 PDT 2019


DISPUTE SETTLEMENT | Brussels, 2 April 2019

European Union launches WTO cases on ICT and pharmaceuticals

Today, the EU has brought two disputes in the World Trade Organization
(WTO) against India and Turkey, respectively targeting unlawful import
duties on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and
unlawful measures on pharmaceuticals. In both cases, there are significant
economic interests and important legal principles at stake for the EU. The
total value of affected European exports is estimated to be more than €1
billion a year.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "Today the EU is showing
once again that it will not hesitate to use the multilateral system to
enforce the rules when others violate them. India must abide by its own
commitment to allow duty free trade in ICT products. Technological
innovation keeps our companies competitive in the global market and
supports hundreds of thousands of high value jobs across Europe. Turkey is
discriminating against EU pharmaceuticals producers by forcing them to move
production there. This is a clear violation of WTO rules and puts many EU
jobs at risk. We hope that we will be able to resolve both cases during the
upcoming WTO consultations.”

In the case against India, the EU is challenging the introduction of import
duties on a wide range of ICT products, for instance mobile phones and
components, base stations, integrated circuits and optical instruments.
Despite its earlier legally binding commitment in the WTO not to charge any
duties on these products, India has been applying duties ranging from 7.5%
to 20%. These import duties are therefore in clear breach by India of WTO
rules. The levies affect EU exports worth €600 million per year.

The case against Turkey concerns measures that force foreign producers of
pharmaceuticals to move their production to the country, if they want their
medicines to be eligible for reimbursement for consumers under the Turkish
health system. In addition, Turkey applies a number of technology transfer
requirements in cases where companies move production to Turkey. These
measures are a clear violation of Turkey’s WTO obligations to treat foreign
companies on equal footing with domestic ones, and to protect intellectual
property of foreign companies, such as patents and business information, on
its territory. The estimated value of pharmaceutical exports likely to be
affected by these measures reaches €460 million and, if further
implemented, could potentially affect all EU exports to Turkey worth more
than €2.5 billion.

Next steps

The first step of the dispute settlement consist of 60-day long
consultations. If the consultations requested today with both India and
Turkey do not result in a satisfactory solution, the EU can request that
the WTO set up a panel in each case to rule on the issues raised.


Since the start of the Juncker Commission in November 2014, the EU has won
9 WTO cases. This led to removing discriminatory taxes, illegal customs
duties or other trade obstacles affecting exports of EU companies worth €10
billion per year in key markets such as Russia, China, US, and South

The EU will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the interests
of the European ICT and pharmaceutic industries in line with the WTO rules.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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