WASHINGTON: The United States is having a good dialogue with the new Indian Government on issues related to intellectual property (IP), a top Obama Administration trade official told lawmakers.
"We've got a good dialogue going now with the new government on this issue, and we're committed to working to achieve concrete progress in this area," US Trade Representative Mike Froman told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing yesterday.
Froman was responding to a question from Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of powerful Senate Finance Committee, wherein he expressed concern over the IP situation in India.
"Less than two weeks ago, India's patent office refused to grant a patent on an important drug that treats hepatitis C. Their rationale is based on a patentability standard that is out of step with the rest of the world and which many believe is inconsistent with India's obligations under the World Trade Organization," Hatch said.
"Would you stress to us today your plan to take meaningful action against India's breaches of our various companies' intellectual property rights?" the Senator asked.
"We have been concerned about the deterioration of the innovation environment in India, and we have engaged with the new government since they came into office in May of last year about our concerns," Froman said in response.
"We held the first Trade Policy Forum in four years in November. I just returned from India yesterday as a matter of fact … and in all of these areas, we have laid out a work program with the government of India to address these and other outstanding issues," said Froman.
Recently, the government of India published a draft intellectual property rights policy proposal that is now open for public comment, he said.
"We are in the process of providing comments on that draft proposal, and we are committed to continuing to engage with them to underscore areas of work that needs to be done in copyright, in trade secrets as well as in the area of patents," Froman said during the hearing on "President Obama's Trade Policy Agenda" convened by the Senate Finance Committee.
In his prepared testimony, Froman said in November, he led a US delegation to the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF), the first TPF since 2010 and an important step in invigorating bilateral relationship.
The TPF provided the forum for the discussion of several key trade and investment issues, including intellectual property rights, agriculture, services, manufacturing and others. "The meeting resulted in substantive work plans for regularized engagement across these priority issues," he said.
"In advance of this meeting, India and the United States worked together to address outstanding concerns arising from the WTO Bali package which, with the support of the other WTO members, will now allow the Trade Facilitation Agreement to be fully implemented," he said.