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MSF calls on UK and Indian govts to remove harmful proposals from UK-India FTA negotiation

Our Bureau, Mumbai
Thursday, November 3, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Even as high level meetings are scheduled to be held between Indian and UK leaders on the UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Indonesia from November 15-16, the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called on the UK and Indian governments to remove the harmful IP provisions including such TRIPS-plus provisions from the UK-India FTA negotiation.

Negotiations between the UK and India on a Free Trade Agreement were formally launched in January 2022 and are currently accelerating, with high-level meetings between the two governments scheduled this month on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Indonesia. The demands of the UK in the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the FTA contain harmful IP provisions, as leaked by bilaterals.org.

MSF has expressed its concern that the harmful IP provisions could undermine India’s robust pro-public health safeguards, which could have a detrimental effect on the sustainable production, registration and supply of affordable, quality-assured generic medicines from India, upon which millions of people around the world rely.

High medicine prices hurt patients and restrict the capacity of governments and other treatment providers to respond to medical needs. Treatment providers, including MSF, rely on more affordable, quality assured generic medicines produced in India to treat vulnerable communities. Competition among generic producers brings medicines prices down and saves lives, but it is constantly under threat from instruments that expand monopolies on medicines, an MSF release said.

"Given the disastrous consequences this leaked IP chapter could have on the global supply of generic medicines, the UK government should withdraw it completely. India should stay vigilant and not allow barriers to affordable medicines to be written into FTA negotiations," said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Head, MSF’s Access Campaign.
India and its former colonial ruler have been for about 18 months negotiating the pact to boost trade and investments between the two countries. The aim was to conclude the talks by Diwali, but no new deadline to conclude the talks has been set, people aware of the developments said.


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