ACTA to bother both India and China

Category: WTO Sub-category: Intellectual Property
Document type: news

India and China have decided to raise their voice against certain issues of tough intellectual property regimes being planned by certain countries that go much beyond the global agreement, TRIPs, at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This move is particularly aimed at safe guard themselves from an excessively harsh anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) being negotiated by countries such as the US, Japan, the EU, Australia and South Korea. Such draconian job on their part could hamper India's trade in a number of areas including pharmaceuticals and IT products.

Both India and China have asked the WTO's Trips council to include the issue of 'Trips plus' enforcement trend in the agenda for its meeting scheduled on June 8-9. They decide to examine the sanctity of an agreement being planned by a group of countries that goes beyond what they have agreed to under the WTO. "We cannot yet challenge the anti counterfeiting trade agreement at the WTO because it is still being formulated. But we can certainly have a discussion on where such an agreement would stand vis-a-vis the WTO," a government official told ET.

The Trips agreement was signed as part of the broader multilateral trade agreement of the WTO (erstwhile GATT) during the Uruguay round in 1994. It demanded for more stringent rules to be enforced in the domestic intellectual property regime of a large number of developing countries. And thus they had to make sweeping changes to follow the same. Going beyond the Trips agreement is something that is unacceptable to countries like India and China as it could render a lot of legitimate products made in such countries like generic drugs and software illegal.

The ACTA is actually being negotiated between eleven countries (it also includes Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, NZ, Morocco and Singapore). It proposes to widen the scope of protection and setting up higher standards for enforcement of intellectual property rights. It would extend to import, export and in-transit goods and includes infringement of all IPRs.

The negotiations for the agreement have been going on for more than three years. But the international community was ignorant about this issue for long and just got to know about it this April through media reports. "Countries like India, China and Brazil should make a lot of noise to kill the agreement before it gets implemented," an activist from an NGO campaigning for access to essential medicines told ET.

Source: The Economic Times.