New Delhi: Union commerce minister Anand Sharma said on Monday that a proposed free-trade agreement with the European Union would not hurt the generic drugs industry.
The minister also said India would attract the same amount of foreign direct investment as last year.
“We will not allow any injury to be caused to the Indian generics industry,” said Sharma, in response to a question from Reuters.
Medical advocacy group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said earlier this month that poor people in India and other developing countries may lose access to affordable generic drugs as part of free-trade negotiations between India and the EU.
The warning highlighted one of the most sensitive issues in trade -- the extent to which companies’ intellectual property rights can be waived to help poor countries and whether that stifles research and innovation.
The EU said it was not asking that India stop producing cheap generic medicines.
Back in 2005, India granted patents on medicines to respect international trade rules and MSF said a new free-trade agreement now under negotiation would tighten these rules.
India and the EU started negotiations for a trade deal in 2007, but have so far failed to iron out differences about market access, procurement and the EU’s efforts to link trade with issues such as child labour and India’s environmental performance.
EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht said earlier this month that the 27-country bloc was aiming for an October signing of the agreement which could open up export opportunities worth $9 billion for India.