US pressure on WTO deal, India maintains stand

New Delhi, July 31 :

Hours before a deadline for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to ratify a global trade facilitation pact, the US mounted pressure on India to soften its stand and end the impasse on reaching an agreement.

WTOThis was conveyed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker when both met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here.

“We are urging our friends in India on the way for compromise that is achievable, and we hope that it is achievable,” Kerry said.

India has so far said that its position on the issue continues to remain the same.

“Our stand remains the same,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters after meeting the US Commerce Secretary.

At the on-going WTO talks in Geneva, India last week called for a halt to the trade facilitation timetable until the end of the year and said a permanent WTO deal on food stockpiling must be in place at the same time.

India has strongly opposed the process of implementing the WTO’s Bali agreements which include TFA, permanent solution on India’s public stock holding of foodgrains for its food security programme and issues related to least developed countries (LDCs).

Hundreds of activists Thursday staged a protest here over pressure by Western nations on India to strengthen intellectual property rights, which has the potential to limit the production of life-saving generic medication.

Gathered under the banner of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the activists demanded at a rally that India should not sign the agreement on the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights-plus (TRIPS-plus), which can cut off the potential supply of cheaper generic medicines that can save lives, especially when the original branded products are priced so high that very few can afford them.


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