ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Intellectual Property Rights and Food: Is the TRIPS Agreement in India’s Favour?

Protecting the right of innovators and adhering to the universal right to food security is a delicate dance that India must seriously reflect on if it is to sustain any meaningful position in the international trading arena.

WTO and South Asia

WTO negotiations so far have shown that when countries forge alliances they can generate synergies and become powerful players. The EU, Cairns Group and the African bloc have emerged as influential groups within the WTO. Several factors have stalled the evolution of a common position among south Asian countries: regional politics and antipathies, the economic disparity in the region, and the temptation for individual countries to draw up independent arrangements with developed countries in return for trade favours often detrimental to regional interests. Will south Asian countries function with a common agenda at Cancun?

WTO and Trade Facilitation

Developing countries' opposition to an agreement on trade facilitation is based primarily on their inability to shoulder more obligations and the strong likelihood of the WTO getting overburdened. This essay argues that there are other possible implications and that the case for further trade facilitation in developing countries is not well established, given the remarkable differences in their levels of development. The Cancun Ministerial is expected to witness a heated debate, if not a deadlock, on these issues.

China's Accession to WTO

This paper attempts to evaluate the implications of China's accession to the WTO in terms of its impact on the country's exports, imports and foreign investment inflows, and also discusses the likely effect of these developments for the Indian economy. The paper argues that in case of China, the changes consequent to accession to WTO will see an increase in economic activity, leading to a higher GDP growth rate. For India, the Chinese challenge can be met only if we strengthen the competitiveness of our economy further by undertaking additional reforms and improving infrastructure.

General Agreement on Trade in Services

Concerns have been voiced about the WTO's encroachment into social service sectors such as health, education, and environment under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and how this may undermine national sovereignty and autonomy in social policy-making. However, most of these concerns stem from misunderstandings and lack of information about the liberalisation process under the GATS. This paper tries to dispel such unwarranted fears by highlighting the GATS' commitment structure and framework and explaining how countries can retain their autonomy in social policy-making under the GATS. However, it also points out some problem areas in this regard, tracing their source to various ambiguities and weaknesses in the GATS framework. The paper highlights the need to use the ongoing GATS 2000 negotiations effectively so as to strengthen the GATS framework and address these problematic issues.

Indian Pharmaceutical Industry in WTO Regime

A SWOT analysis of the Indian pharmaceutical industry (IPI) in the WTO regime reveals that the much acclaimed IPI's expertise in process development skills were made possible by amendments made to the Indian Patents Act 1970. This strength should be utilised to the hilt to benefit from opportunities that arise from vertical disintegration of research, clinical trials and manufacturing by the multinationals. IPI faces threats in the form of competition from other Asian giants, particularly China. This paper argues that the IPI should adopt various strategies like producing off-patented products, new patented products by acquiring compulsory licensing or cross licensing, collaborate with multinationals not only in R and D and manufacturing, but also in marketing new patented products and improving the standards of production to widen the export market.

Shrimp-Turtle Decision in WTO

This paper looks at the shrimp-turtle dispute between the US and shrimp exporting countries, including India. The US imposition of a ban on import of shrimps caught using methods endangering sea turtles has not affected Indian exports adversely. However, the ruling of the appellate body of the WTO has far-reaching implications as it virtually mainstreams environment in the world trade regime. It also legitimises the imposition of unilateral trade sanctions and process-related requirements to protect the environment.

TRIPS Agreement and Amendment of Patents Act in India

This article examines whether the amendment to the Indian Patents Act, 1970 has taken advantage of the provisions available under the TRIPS agreement, and look at the exemption, exception and compulsory licensing provisions in pharmaceuticals.

Calcutta Diary

Immigration of ordinary labour from the poor to rich countries fouls up the ethnic mix; but some kinds of immigrants, scientists, and such others even of poor countries are allowed in. James Tobin has suggested the payment of a tax to the poor country for every such person. If the principle is conceded, why not then concede the legitimacy of the demand for the liberal movement of all labour from the poor to rich countries?

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