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India moves WTO against US

India has moved the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the US as it has not yet complied with the rulings of the WTO pertaining to imposition of high import duty on certain Indian steel products.

In December 2014, the WTO’s appellate body pronounced a ruling against the act of US which is imposing high import duty on certain Indian steel products. It had ruled that the imposition of import duty on steel products was inconsistent with various provisions of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.  

The Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (the SCM Agreement) – addresses two separate but closely related matters-The multilateral disciplines on the use of subsidies and the conditions under which Members may apply countervailing measures.

India has sought consultation with the US for compliance of the WTO’s rulings. If the US refuses to comply then India has planned to approach the WTO’s compliance panel.

In order to comply with the WTO rulings on countervailing duties on imports of hot-rolled carbon steel products from India, the US needs to amend its domestic norms.

Earlier, the US had moved the arbitration panel of the WTO against India as it complained that India had failed to remove trade restrictions on American poultry.

WTO

The WTO is an inter-governmental organization for governments to negotiate global trade agreements and progressively liberalizing trade. The WTO operates a system of trade rules that apply to all its members. The WTO is also a place for Member governments to settle their trade disputes. Its located in Geneva, Switzerland. It was established on 1 January 1995 and its official languages are English, French and Spanish.

Countervailing duties are those duties that are imposed by a country to counter the negative impact of import subsidies to protect domestic producers.

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US to Sell high-tech chemical protective clothing to India

The United States will be selling high-tech Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) protective clothing worth $75 million to India. For the first time, the Pentagon has notified the sale of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) Support Equipment, the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) protective clothing, to the US Congress.  The entire package includes 38,034 M50 general purpose masks, 38,034 units of suits, trousers, gloves,  boots and NBC bags; 854 aprons; 854 alternative aprons; 9,509 Quick Doff Hoods; and 114,102 M61 filters.

Significance

JSLIST protective clothing when used with the chemical protective mask would shield the Indian Soldiers from exposure to any kind of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare that can result in a serious injury. The protective clothing  includes the suit, boots and gloves, pairs of trousers and NBC bags and can be worn for up to 24 hours in contaminated areas.

Background

The India-US defence partnership is among the fastest growing in the world. In the past few years, the US has signed more than $10 billion in defence sales to India. This also the first major foreign defence sale approved by the Trump administration. 

Obama administration had designated India as a major defence partner, which places India at par with other major allies of the US in terms of defence trade and sharing of technologies. In June 2015, India and the US had renewed this Defence Framework Agreement for the next 10 years. The Defence framework paves way for high level strategic discussions, continued exchanges between armed forces of both countries, and strengthening capabilities. 

India’s formal cooperation with US in the area of defence also includes bilateral engagement on defence through the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the India-US Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) Agreement. While the DTTI facilitates cooperation in defence research and development, the RDT&E Agreement facilitates co-production and co-development of projects like sharing and design of aircraft carrier technology and explore possible cooperation on development of jet engine technology.

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US places India once again on IPR ‘priority watch’ list

The US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office has once again placed India on the ‘priority watch’ list in this year’s Special 301 report despite the country rolling out National IPR Policy last year. India has been placed in ‘priority watch’ list owing to USTR’s view that India has not made adequate changes in its intellectual property (IP) laws and regulations. India has been placed on the ‘Priority Watch List’ for decades now and is likely to remain in the ‘Priority Watch List’ category for having inadequate IPR laws and patent protection.

Background

Out-of-cycle review (OCR) of the India’s IPR regime by the USTR was started under the Obama administration in which both American, as well as Indian firms and other stakeholders, submitted their reviews on India’s IPR laws.

In May last year, India rolled out a National IPR Policy to address the concerns of the US trade bodies. The policy was drafted confirming to the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Similar to USTR’s Special 301 Report, India is being ranked poorly in the IPR index being done by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).

USTR

United States Trade Representative (USTR) is an agency that is part of the executive office of the President of the US. USTR creates an annual Special 301 list since 1989. USTR places those countries that have either national laws or regulations that detrimentally affect U.S. trade or the rights of IP holders on this list. USTR places these countries in three categories. The most egregious violators are featured as Priority Foreign Countries (PFC), serious offenders are featured on the Priority Watch List (PWL), and less serious offenders in the Watch List (WL). The Special 301 list has continuously placed India most often as a PWL country.

Analysis

Under World Trade Organisation jurisprudence, the legality of the unilateral actions by the US over other sovereign countries remains questionable. To cater to its needs, the US tries to bring about a change in a country’s domestic IP law by adopting mechanisms like the Special 301 list. It is an extraterritorial application of the domestic law of a country and is not reasonable under the overall WTO regime.

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