China, Canada, Japan, Turkey, Ecuador seek to join consultations in the Indo-E.U. Trade Dispute over Seizure of ‘In-transit’ Generic Drugs


The Indo-E.U. Trade dispute over the seizure of ‘in-transit’ Indian generic drug consignments at various ports in the Netherlands is heating up with several other countries filing requests to join the consultations on the dispute. The countries which have filed requests to join consultations and the reasons given by them for such a request are as follows:

(i)Canada: Canada has a substantial trade interest in these consultations, as it exports 40% of generic drugs manufactured in Canada to over 120 countries. Canada is also an active WTO Member on the issue of public health, including access to medicines. Accordingly, Canada requests to join in these consultations.

(ii)Ecuador: Ecuador has a substantial trade interest in these consultations as shipments of generic drugs destined for Ecuador have been seized in transit in the territory of the European Union in 2008 and 2009. Ecuador is also concerned that these measures could adversely affect the shipment of drugs destined for Ecuador in the future.

(iii)Brazil: Brazil imports significant amounts of generic medicines, including from India; Brazil is also an exporter of generic medicines. More specifically, one of the drug seizures listed in India’s consultation request affected a consignment of medicines bound for Brazil. In addition, Brazil requested consultations with the European Union under the DSU on similar measures. Brazil has therefore a substantial trade interest in the present dispute and in the correct application of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as well as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

(iv)Japan: The Government of Japan hereby notifies the consulting Members and the Dispute Settlement Body of its desire to be joined in these consultations pursuant to paragraph 11 of Article 4 of the Understanding of Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, in light of the substantial trade interest of Japan in the seizure of consignments of generic drugs, originated in India and in transit to Brazil, at ports and airports in the Netherlands on the ground of alleged infringement of patents subsisting in the Netherlands.

(v)China: As a significant bilateral trade partner of the EU and the Netherlands and a big producing country of generic drugs, China therefore has substantial interest in these relevant consultations.

(vi) Turkey: Turkey has a customs union with the European Union and it has a substantial trade interest in these consultations.

Given that Japan, Canada and the E.U. are also the founding members of ACTA, it would be interesting to see the nature of their arguments before the DSB. The future of these consultations and the outcome of the dispute may very well be key to determining whether ACTA will proceed as planned.

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Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

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