The European Union and India began negotiations in 2007 on a free trade agreement that could generate near $134 billion dollars annually. While seemingly good news, the pact was highly controversial. Groups including the United Nations expressed concern on how it would impact India’s ability to continue producing generic anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, leading to the world’s poor losing access to treatment.
After years of negotiations India has stated that the deal will not be linked to their ability to produce ARV drugs. This long hoped for announcement gives relief to millions around the globe.
“The Government of India reaffirms its full commitment to ensure that quality generic medicines, including anti-retroviral drugs, are seamlessly available, and to make them available to all countries,” India’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said. He added, “India will also use the flexibilities allowed under (the copyright pact) TRIPS, including the use of compulsory licensing, to ensure that people living with HIV have access to all life-saving medicines.”
6.6 million people have access to the ARV drugs and India’s pharmaceutical companies make up 86% of the first-line generic drugs. By reaching a deal that does not prevent the continued production of these drugs, millions of lives will be saved.
Trade in excess of $137 billion could be reached by 2015 if the deal goes through, far surpassing the current levels of $92 billion.