India has resolved the dispute with the European Union over confiscation of Indian generic drugs by countries such as the Netherlands and France, ending uncertainty for Indian pharma firms which use Europe as a transit point for exports to Africa and Latin America.
''The EU has accepted our position and amended its rules,'' commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters on the sidelines of the FICCI-Frauenhofer CEOs roundtable in Berlin on Thursday. Consequently, India will withdraw its complaint to the World Trade Organisation.
Sharma said, ''We do not want to be in conflict. There has been realisation and we appreciate the steps, which have been taken. They went to the extent of saying that they were misreading the concerned EU notification,'' the minister said.
In the last couple of years, customs authorities in a few of European countries seized about 17 drug consignments shipped from India en route to various African and Latin American countries. The medicines, which were generics or off-patent in India, were impounded as European companies holding patents for them in their countries had complained to the authorities that they were counterfeit.
India claimed that such seizures flouted multilateral trade rules, as the medicines were off-patent both in India and the country where they were being exported. Almost half of India's drugs exports, worth 40,000 crore a year, are generics.
The Indian industry welcomed the EU decision to amend its customs rules, but said there is need to be cautious. ''This is good news, but it could be a strategy by the EU as its intellectual property interests are now covered by the anti-counterfeit trade agreement (ACTA) that it is about to implement with 10 other countries,'' D G Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), said.