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Govt against offering flexibility for patents in free trade deal with UK

New Delhi, Dec 12, 2022

Ahead of UK trade secretary Kemi Badenoch’s visit to India for FTA (free trade agreement) talks, the government has made it clear that it does not want to offer any flexibility in the intellectual property rights (IPR) regime that will allow “evergreening of patents” by drug companies.

Badenoch’s meeting with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal will be the first major interaction on the proposed bilateral trade deal after the Rishi Sunak government took office in October. While the two countries had set a Diwali deadline for completing negotiations on the proposed agreement, they have not set any time frame, given that several ticklish issues remain on the table.

The first meeting at the ministerial level may set the tone for officials on both sides to reconvene and get the negotiations back on track, with securing business and work visas easily being India’s top priority.In return, the UK is seeking reduced import duty on Scotch and automobiles, while pursuing aggressive interest in some of the services sectors too, such as legal. “The talks — the first formal round since July — will target a deal to cut tariffs and open opportunities for UK services such as financial and legal, making it easier for British businesses to sell to an economy set to be the world’s third largest — with a middle class of 250 million people — by 2050,” a statement from the UK’s department for international trade said.Government sources maintained that India is conscious of the red lines and identified an easier regime for patents as one such as area, something that has also been flagged by health activists. “We will have an agreement if the terms are fair and equitable,” an official said, adding that Goyal is expected to highlight how the Indian market is poised for rapid expansion.

[The Times of India]

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