June 3, 2015 2:14:18 am
India continues to have a very complex import regime, notwithstanding the steps taken by it to streamline customs procedures, a World Trade Organization (WTO) report has said. The country has, however, taken a slew of steps to modernise its intellectual property rights regime, the report said.
According to the sixth review of India’s trade policies and practices conducted by the WTO, though India has continued to implement trade-facilitation measures, its “import regime remains complex, especially its licensing and permit system, and its tariff structure, which has multiple exemptions, with rates varying according to product, user or specific export promotion programme.”
In order to facilitate trade, India implemented self-assessment in customs procedures in 2011 while around 97.6 per cent of the imports are processed through the risk management system where only high-risk consignments are subject to checks.
Further, the trade policy review report said that since its last review in 2011, the country has worked on improving its intellectual property rights (IPR) regime. It amended the Copyright Act to implement the 1996 Copyright Treaty of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and issued guidelines on patents for biological materials. “Since its last Review, India has taken several initiatives to modernise its IPR administration and continue its efforts to enforce IPRs… In March 2012, India issued its first and only compulsory licence,” the report said. India’s IPR remains a contentious issue with the US trade representative questioning the country’s patent regime.
The USTR had last year initiated a unilateral probe into the country’s patent laws following concerns raised by lobby groups.
The Special 301 report 2015 of the US ranked India under the priority watch list. Following the concerns raised, the government last year announced that a national IPR policy would be framed to safeguard India’s interest.
The WTO report also pointed out the structural bottlenecks like delays in project approval, ill-targeted subsidies, low manufacturing base and low agricultural productivity, difficulty in land acquisition, strict labour regulations and skill mismatches which “remain a barrier to achieve high growth”.
India, in its response to the report, said that it was conscious of challenges posed by the uncertain external environment, possible spill-overs of below-normal agricultural growth and challenges relating to the massive requirements of skill creation and infrastructural upgradation.
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