The Telegraph
Thursday , May 1 , 2014
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Status quo on US trade watch

Washington, April 30 (PTI): The US today kept India out of the Priority Foreign Country list, a worst classification, and said it would hold discussions with the next government in New Delhi on enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights.

“India remains on the Priority Watch List in 2014. In making this determination, the US recognises not only the concerns, but also the critical role that meaningful, constructive and effective engagement between India and the US should play in resolving these concerns,” US trade representative Michael Froman said in the 2014 Special 301 report.

In the coming months, the US will redouble its efforts to seek opportunities for meaningful, sustained, and effective engagement on IP-related matters with the “new government”, including at senior levels, the report said.

US trade lobbies, particularly in pharma, have been pressurising its government to place India under the Priority Foreign Country list for IPR.

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

India remaining on the Priority Watch List in 2014 would mean it is not properly protecting the US copyrights and patents, but the US would continue to engage with India to improve the IPR regime.

“In many areas, however, IP protection and enforcement challenges are growing, and there are serious questions regarding the future of the innovation climate in India across multiple sectors and disciplines,” the report said.

The Special 301 Report is an annual review of the global state of IPR protection and enforcement.

India does not figure in the Priority Foreign Country list because of the ongoing general elections. The US administration decided not to succumb to the pressure of the business community as it feels strategic relations are more important than business and economic considerations.