Visiting US panel on IPRs to get Indian visas, but no red carpet

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26 February 2014

The Indian government today rejected reports that it has decided not to grant visa to members of the US International Trade Commission, which has initiated a probe against India's trade and investment policies.

"Any trade visit from the US is welcome and there is no denial of visa. The issue of whom they meet is a separate matter, and is decided on the basis of administrative availability," an external affairs ministry spokesperson said.

The clarification came following reports that government had decided not to grant visas to members of the US International Trade Commission (USITC), a quasi-judicial federal American agency, to visit India.

An official in commerce and industry ministry however said government has decided not to meet the USITC members when they come here, according to PTI.

The USITC has alleged that New Delhi's trade and investments rules, particularly intellectual property laws, discriminate against US companies. Last week, it conducted a hearing in connection with its investigation, 'Trade, Investment, and Industrial Policies in India: Effects on the US Economy" (See: US trade panel launches probe against India).

In recent times, the Obama administration had been strongly criticising India's investment climate and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws, especially in the pharmaceuticals and solar power sectors.

The USITC has raised the matter of 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 World Trade Organisation. India however has said its IPR laws are fully compliant with WTO rules.

India already figures on the US government's Special 301 Priority Watch List and there is also a proposal to include India in the list of America's Priority Foreign Country list, which could result in trade sanctions.

Under the US Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of IPR or fair and equitable market access to US entities relying on IPR protection.





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