The Mint Report for 07 December 2010

The Mint Report for 07 December 2010

A proposed trade agreement between India and the EU may not hamper the sale of generic and off-patent drugs from India after all. Mint has learnt they’ve decided their rules will not be much more stringent than the WTO’s existing TRIPS regime. Both activists and Indian pharmaceutical companies have been campaigning against the planned trade agreement. They’re worried a more restrictive “TRIPS-plus" regime would curtail sales of cheap drugs. India exports some Rs35,000 crore worth of generics every year. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could make a declaration on the trade agreement during a summit with the EU in Brussels on Friday.

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And it’s official- Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will come to India on a state visit from 15-17 December. His trip comes at a time when India and China have sparred noisily over stapled visas for Kashmiris and other issues. The announcement also comes just as India has confirmed it will attend the Nobel Prize ceremony where a Chinese human rights activist will be honored.

And in other news, Air India may still be strapped for cash and struggling, but it will finally get more equity as part of the government’s bailout. Mint has been told the government will infuse Rs1,200 crore into the airline next week. Air India will get the funding even though it has not met the targets set for it. Back in October, the cabinet committee of economic affairs had refused to approve the equity infusion because Air India hadn’t met its conditions. Those include rationalizing the wages of some 33,000 employees and hiving off the engineering and ground handling operations into a separate unit. Bypassing the terms needs the approval of a group of ministers, and at this point it’s not clear if that’s happened.