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NEW DELHI: India is likely to drag the U.S. to WTO if America includes it in the ‘Priority Foreign Country’ list for intellectual property rights, a development that could further escalate trade tensions between the two. The U.S. industry and trade lobbies are putting pressure on their government to put India under this list, sources said.
Officials here said the demand is “completely wrong” as India’s intellectual property rights are compliant with global laws, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Under the U.S.Trade Act, a Priority Foreign Country is the worst classification given to those which deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or fair and equitable market access to the U.S. persons relying on IPR protection.

Inclusion into this list leads to trade sanctions. “If the U.S. does that, then India probably will have no option but drag them to the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism,” an official said.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), a quasi- judicial federal American agency, has already initiated an investigation against India’s trade and investment policies. It has alleged that New Delhi’s laws discriminate against the U.S. companies. “The country’s IPR (intellectual property rights) laws are fully compliant with WTO. If America has any issue with our laws, they can raise that in the World Trade Organisation,” the official said. To follow up the probe, USITC officials have sought a meeting with Indian officials.

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