India Rings in the New Year with Welcome Policy Reforms

India has started the new year in a welcome, positive direction with three actions that would, if fully implemented, bolster American exports agricultural biotechnology, medicines, and content creators, important industries for AFTI’s members.  This is a notable shift form the end of 2018, when India backed away from bilateral trade talks.

We were very pleased to see Monsanto’s victory in India’s Supreme Court, overturning a “Delhi High Court order saying that the American giant can’t claim patent on its GM cotton seeds,” per the IndUS Business Journal.  This decision sets a thoughtful precedent that, if followed, could increase yields for Indian farmers and boost American agricultural biotechnology exports to India.

Second, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act, 1952, “to impose strict penalties for combating film piracy and sought comments from people on a draft bill,” per India Today.  This change, if adopted, would protect intellectual property for producers and distributors of entertainment content in both countries.

Finally, the Ministry of Pharmaceutical’s announced amendments to its 2013 Drugs Prices Control Order (DPCO), which have been prompted by steady advocacy by the U.S. government and stakeholders. The amendments include proving foreign-developed drugs the same five-year exemption that locally developed medicines currently enjoy and creating an exemption for orphan drugs from price controls. The status quo has made it difficult for U.S. pharmaceutical companies to compete fairly in India, but the full effect of these worthy reforms will only come when paired with meaningful patent protection, as well as new pathways for orphan drugs.

If India can follow these actions by reengaging in earnest in bilateral trade talks – and, out of the gate, making real progress on key issues – then 2019 would be off to a strong start indeed. We will be watching this closely in the coming weeks, as well as the annual budget, which in recent years has introduced many harmful tariffs, and the annual World Bank Doing Business Report.