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Trade mission successful, IPR to be respected: US official

Author: IANS/Monday, November 6, 2017/Categories: Agri & Fertiliser

Trade mission successful, IPR to be respected: US official

New Delhi - US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Ted McKinney said the agriculture trade mission he led to India ended on a "positive" note, adding the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of biotech companies would be respected.

Asked about the ongoing battle between Missouri-based seed giant Monsanto and Indian authorities over the IPR of Bt cotton seeds, the US Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs chose not to make any direct comment but sought to respect the IPR.

"I have had no discussion on the briefing on biotech generally. I am not prepared to give any sort of government reply. I am speaking generally to say that the IPR should be respected worldwide," McKinney said.

McKinney led an agribusiness trade mission that visited India from October 30 to November 3.

He said the seed company was not among the 50-member delegation that came to India with an objective to help grow US agricultural exports to the country.

"Just as we want to respect the Intellectual Property Rights of companies in India, we would hope for the same for other companies. It may be a broad statement, as they did not come on this trade mission," he said. 

Many countries around the world have found great benefits from the new technologies of any sort, said McKinney, who was on his first international trip as Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

The US official met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 3.

Asked about Indian authorities' decision to put indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard, in which the US had shown interest, McKinney said it was New Delhi's prerogative.

"We have deep respect for the autonomy of other countries. It is your country, it is the government's right to look at that," he said.

He added that the US views were that new technologies were of great help.

"We are seeing some of great benefits through biotech cotton that has been quite productive in India.

"So, we deal with biotech crops over time. We do not want to let that give away what we see as enormous opportunity both ways," he said.

At the same time, McKinney said that the intent of the trade mission "was not to dive into issues of difference but to find issues of commonality".

"And we think we found them based on the number of B2B meetings," he said.

The US official said that the meetings with Indian government officials were "productive" and the visit covered all three objectives -- trade building on existing public private partnerships, making new introductions, and trade policy discussions.

"So as we wrap up this evening, people are departing with smiles and feeling pretty good," he said.

McKinney called India's improvement in World Bank ranking in 'ease of doing' business from 130 to 100 "incredible".

"That is incredible. It is huge compliment to the Indian government. We see the trend continuing. I heard very distinctly there is a desire to lift up Indian farmers, to be more productive, more efficient," he said.

"We have collectively a lot of technologies that can be brought together and those might be some of things for future opportunities. But nothing specific was identified for the follow up."

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