Today, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman is in India to participate in the U.S. – India Trade Policy Forum. Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in May, Indian and U.S. leaders have held several meetings to further the relationship between our countries. Although the U.S. and India have traditionally had strong economic and diplomatic ties, relations had cooled in recent years because of India’s adoption of certain trading policies that discriminated against foreign companies. These actions include requiring local content requirements for foreign manufacturers and granting or considering compulsory licenses on patents held by foreign companies.
Despite the current climate, each meeting that has been held between the U.S. and India since Mr. Modi’s election has been a step in the right direction. For instance, at the conclusion of his meeting with President Obama during Modi’s trip to the U.S. in September, the two announced the creation of a high-level intellectual property (IP) working group that would meet in conjunction with the Trade Policy Forum. This working group can help lead to a level playing field in which U.S. and Indian innovative industries can collaborate and thrive for the mutual benefit of both economies. Additionally, India and the U.S. have recently been able to resolve a disagreement over the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, making it easier for exports from developing countries to access the global marketplace. India had previously rejected the TFA because it would have affected some of its own internal policies, yet through continued strategic engagement, the U.S. was able to work with India to reach a compromise.
Today’s meeting presents another chance to continue this progress and outline clear objectives for the road ahead. This meeting is also important because some of Mr. Modi’s promises since he took office have yet to be demonstrated with concrete actions. The Trade Policy Forum is one of many upcoming opportunities that Mr. Modi has on his horizon where he can make positive changes to build India’s innovative economy.
Mr. Froman’s trip is also significant in that it allows the USTR to glean further information that could be pertinent to the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review process, which was announced earlier this year amid continuing concerns about India’s adherence to global intellectual property norms. In effect, our government will have the opportunity to measure progress made by India since the last Special 301 report, released while Mr. Modi’s predecessor was still in office, and take stock of Mr. Modi’s commitment to intellectual property rights since coming to power.
PhRMA and its member companies hope that today’s talks are productive and begin paving the way toward a stronger U.S.-India relationship. Progress in the area of intellectual property rights will help innovative biopharmaceutical companies deliver the latest life-saving treatments to Indian patients, while spurring the development of new medicines and opening the door for increased collaboration with our Indian counterparts.