WASHINGTON: A top American trade advocacy group has vehemently opposed any move by the US to designate India a Priority Foreign Country, saying the Indian Governmenthas been responsive to issues raised on the intellectual property rights (IPR) front over the past year.

The US India Business Council (USIBC) has told the US Trade Representatives (USTR) that it strongly recommends against India being designated a Priority Foreign Country as being advocated by influential pharma lobbying groups.

“USIBC does not believe there is a legal or policy basis to designate India as a Priority Foreign Country,”USIBC president Ron Somers said in a submission made to the USTR which is looking into the demands of the lobbying groups.

A Priority Foreign Country is a status reserved for those nations that are the most egregious violators of IP rights and have the most negative impact on US competitiveness abroad.

Specific intervention by the Indian Government has resulted in active cases being sent back for review by various government departments, which demonstrates India’s responsiveness to Industry concerns, Somers argued in his seven page letter.

“No Compulsory Licenses were issued in India in 2013. Patent denials in 2013 have not been of Industry focus as in previous years. Only one Patent denial of significant note occurred in 2013, but this was by Court Order of India’s Supreme Court, not its Government,” it said.

“Enforcement has been beefed up, resulting in more raids than in previous years. Arrests for piracy have increased. The year 2013 has resulted in progress being achieved on IPR,” Somers argued.

Asserting that India’s promise to be a great innovator in pharmaceuticals, green technology, and other research-driven sectors is becoming a reality, Somers said all agree – including the Indian Government – that continued progress requires the creation of an environment that rewards and protects Intellectual Property.

Industry would hope that efforts to advance dialogue between India and the US regarding IPR will gain momentum – particularly with India’s incoming new government – and that continued investment by Indian and American companies will follow.

“There is every motivation to collaborate in R&D, innovation, high-technology, and IP-sensitive frontiers of discovery. Our very futures depend on it. The best method to resolve challenges and minimize barriers to investment is by engaging in persistent and respectful dialogue,” he said.