ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reflections on a TRIPS-Compliant Law

The three amendments to the Indian Patents Act were made alongside intense debates which emphasised that with the rights of the patent holders strengthened under TRIPS, there is an urgent need to balance this situation with more effective instruments so as to ensure that the public interest issues, as for example, access to medicines at affordable prices are also addressed. The global community took a major step towards bringing about a balance through the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. While the third amendment of the Indian Patents Act takes steps to address some of the more difficult issues in TRIPS, there remains a need to revisit the key provisions of the Patents Act keeping in view the imperatives of access to medicines.

Substantive Patent Law Treaty

This paper analyses some of the provisions of a draft substantive patent law treaty (SPLT) that were considered in the Tenth Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents, WIPO in 2004. A key question in this regard is whether or not the harmonisation of patent laws, through the adoption of the SPLT, marks a step towards introducing a TRIPS-plus regime in terms of the obligations of signatory countries. It finds that flexibilities currently available under TRIPS could be considerably eroded if patent harmonisation initiated under the WIPO Patent Agenda moves towards higher and stricter standards. Clear linkages between the TRIPS and SPLT negotiating processes have not been established at the multilateral or domestic level in developing countries and there is an urgent need for these nations to make their presence felt at the SPLT negotiations.

Third Amendment to 1970 Patent Act

The proposed third amendment to the 1970 Patent Act goes much further than required to fulfil India's WTO obligations and does not have provisions that are necessary to strike a balance between the rights and obligations of the patent holder. This article makes suggestions to redress the imbalances in the bill that is now under consideration.

Doha: A Developing Country Perspective

The pressure exerted by the developing countries was a notable feature of the Doha ministerial conference of the member countries of WTO. The declaration on TRIPs agreement and public health adopted by the conference was the most conspicuous outcome of such pressure. On the other hand, the inclusion of five new issues in the negotiating mandate of WTO was a reminder that the developing countries could expect their pressure to go so far and no further. In making their preparations for the negotiations on the work programme agreed upon at Doha, the developing countries have to bear this reality in mind.

A Critical Budget

The Budget for 2001-2002 was particularly critical in view of the quite dismal picture of the economy painted in the government's own Economic Survey. It was important for the government to give policy directions through the budget in order that the economy can meet the challenges that it faces in the integrating world economy. How far has this been done?

Complying with TRIPs Commitment-EMR versus Product Patent Regime

Of the two options available to India for meeting its obligations under the TRIPs agreement the 'exclusive marketing rights' (EMR) route and bringing forward introduction of the product patent regime from the year 2005 to 2000 the EMR route, which is what the government has chosen to adopt in the legislation now before parliament, has significant adverse implications so that it would have been preferable to have opted for the second option of advancing the product patent regime without availing of the transitional period provided under the TRIPs agreement.

FEMA A Closer Look

Biswajit Dhar Mritiunjoy Mohanty The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) represents major departures from past policies in two important respects. First, it can he seen as an initial step towards capital account convertibility. Second, the government seems to have finally decided to give up alt intentions of regulating foreign capital in the country.

Strengthening the External Sector-What the Budget Foretells

This paper considers how the 1998-99 Budget has addressed the imperatives fating the country's external sector in the present phase of its increasing integration with the global economy, While discussing the various mechanisms the government could have brought into play to promote exports, the authors argue that increasing the competitiveness of domestic production is the key to improving the country's export performance. This can be brought about by a combination of two sets of initiatives: providing effective infrastructural facilities and strengthening the science and technology infrastructure to generate technologies for industry. An analysis of the budget from these standpoints shows that the budgetary proposals are not adequate to meet the requirements of the domestic productive sectors.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment-An Analysis

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) mooted by the OECD will bring about major changes in the foreign investment regime. Existing policies of government regulation of foreign investment would have to be altered completely and in their place would have to be introduced policies for the protection of foreign investors. By truncating the powers of nation-states, the proposed foreign investment regime raises several important issues. One critical question relates to the implications of lifting of controls over the movement of all forms of capital. Another fundamental issue is the future of the post-war multilateral framework built essentially around sovereign states having inviolable rights over their economic domains.

Hijacking of WTO Ministerial Conference

The contentious issues of most concern to the developing countries - most importantly, enlarging their exports' access to developed country markets were kept out of the deliberations of the WTO ministerial conference in Singapore. Instead the conference concerned itself actively with bringing new areas within the purview of the WTO, which the developed countries have been pushing for.

Foreign Direct Investment and Domestic Savings-Investment Behaviour-Developing Countries Experience

Savings-Investment Behaviour Developing Countries' Experience Biswajit Dhar Saikat Sinha Roy Two main arguments have been advanced in support of the role of foreign direct investment (FDl) in stimulating growth processes in developing countries. The first, essentially a short-term view, maintains that FDI can help mitigate problems encountered in external debt management. The second takes a longer-term perspective while arguing that FDl has the potential of meeting the domestic resource gaps of developing countries thereby enhancing their growth prospects. This paper examines these two views by looking at the experience of 16 developing countries which have attracted the largest flows of FDl and have the largest stocks of FDl in the developing world.

Few Universal Solutions

Few Universal Solutions Biswajit Dhar Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, United Nations, New York, IN the past few years, the Asia-Pacific region has been the focal point of attention due to the remarkable growth performance of the newly industrialising countries even as the industrialised world was struggling to find a way out of the persevering recession. The economic dynamism exhibited by the former has prompted many to comment that the Asia-Pacific region would emerge as the new growth centre of the global economy. This view has found support in more recent years as the growth syndrome of the NICs has had a spread effect with the countries of south-east Asia showing similar economic performance. Coexisting with these dynamic countries is another set of countries in the region that arc among the poorest in the world and for whom stepping up of economic growth has become a daunting task. Yet another dimension of Asia is provided by the central Asian republics which are in the midst of unparalleled economic decline. These contrasting faces of Asia are extensively documented by the ESCAP in its annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific. The latest survey, apart from providing a useful round-up of the Asia-Pacific economies, analyses in depth two of the more vexed issues of present times, viz, financial sector reforms and social security. What makes the Survey distinct from the other attempts made by intergovernmental organisations while addressing similar issues is its emphasis on the analytical content rather than on simple-minded prescriptions. By bringing forth the degree of variation in countries as regard these issues, the Survey gives an important message that there are no quick-fix solutions to such intricate problems as financial sector reforms. The macro-economic overview of the region has been provided by considering a mi x of analytical and subregional categories of countries. Thus, while the least developed countries (LDCs) and the developed countries have been treated separately, the remaining countnes have been classified according to the sub-regions to which they belong A point worth considering here is whether strict analytical categories would have been better suited for the purpose than the mix of categories stated above. This could have been done in the Survey without making any significant reclassification of the countries since the sub-regions are broadly found to conform to analytical categories. Thus, south Asia comprises essentially the low income countries, south-east Asia of the middle income countries and the central Asian republics of the economies in transition. Countries of the sub-regions of east Asia and the Pacific can be reclassified into their appropriate analytical groups.

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