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US firms approach USTR against India’s medical price control measures

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Context:

  • Recent reports indicate that the lowering of prices on medical devices which are only one component of overall procedure costs are not being passed along to patients.

Contentions of American Companies:

  • American companies producing medical devices and health information systems have approached the US Trade Representative against India’s move to implement price controls on coronary stents and knee replacement implants that they say denying them equitable market access.
  • In a petition, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) requested the US Trade Representative (USTR) to suspend or withdraw India’s benefits under Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
  • They are deeply concerned about recently implemented price controls on coronary stents and knee replacement implants in India that have slashed prices by as much as 85 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively, followed by signals that price caps for additional life-saving and life-improving medical devices may be forthcoming.
  • The intention of the American companies was not for India to lose the benefits of GSP, but rather to advance engagement and meaningful discussions on restoring market access for medtech in India while keeping patients’ interests at the center of all discussions.

Impact of price control by India on various medical devices

  • Recent reports indicate that the lowering of prices on medical devices which are only one component of overall procedure costs are not being passed along to patients, which needs to be corrected.
  • Price controls may also block innovations and limit patient access to the best available care.
  • The failure to implement a mutually acceptable alternative could deter global organisations from making their latest products available to India’s health care providers and patients, make Indian innovators less competitive in global markets, negatively impact future investment in India, and ultimately harm patients.

What India needed?

  • India’s focus on controlling prices of high-quality medical devices, without any attempt to address the larger picture and correct inefficiencies
  • A stable and predictable market environment is key to driving investments in R&D, manufacturing, and other services to grow the medical technology industry in India, and meet the current and future needs of all of India’s people.
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International Atomic Energy Agency opens atomic fuel reserve in Kazakhstan to ensure supply

IN NEWS:

          On August 29, 2017 International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) decided to open a low enriched Uranium bank in Kazakhstan. The objective is to ensure the supply of nuclear fuel in the event of disruption due to political or market problems.
The atomic fuel reserve:
           The bank has been established at the Ulba metallurgical plant in northern Kazakhstan. The reserve, will store 90 tons oflow-enriched uranium (LEU), the essential ingredient needed to make the fuel for light-water nuclear reactors, which generate electricity.
           Usually low enriched uranium is purchased on the open market or by bilateral agreement between countries, it is a system in which this new bank does not want to disrupt.
           The IAEA insists that the reserve is a “mechanism of last resort” for situations in which a UN member nation cannot access fuel by the usual means. The IAEA, which manages the reserve, has established a series of strict criteria for a member state to request and purchase uranium from the bank.

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world’s toughest plastic bag law

IN NEWS:

          Those who are producing, selling or even using the non-degradable bags now face four years in jail or a $40,000 (USD) /(£31,000) fine in Kenya.

key points:
       Kenya has passed the world’s toughest law against plastic bags on pollution.
       Judy Wakhungu , Kenya’s environment minister insisted the non-degradable bag manufacturers would be predominantly targeted first.
       Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.
       Pastic bags can take between 500 and 1,000 years to break down.
       Kenya is a major exporter of plastic bags in Africa. The East African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single-use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.

 

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China’s RCEP

 RCEP

 
About Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP):
          It is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
 
 
 
China's interest:
          China, using its influence as the global leader in goods exports, has been deploying quiet diplomacy to ensure consistent focus on attempts to obtain commitments on elimination of tariffs on most traded goods. China is keen on an agreement on a ‘high level’ of tariff liberalisation — eliminating duties on as much as 92% of traded products. This deal helps China fulfil its objectives.
India and RECP:
  • The 19th round of RCEP negotiation was held on July 24-28 in Hyderabad, India.
  • The 16 countries agreed to constitute a Working Group on government procurement to take forward negotiations on the topic and include it as a separate chapter in the final agreement.
  • They, however said India would not given in to the demands from these countries for "market access and national treatment (equal treatment of foreign and local firms)" pertaining to government procurement in the RCEP agreement, and not even undertake any commitment on a "best endeavour basis.
  • "Even in India's separate FTAs with Japan, South Korea and Singapore (that are already in force), "market access and national treatment" have been kept out of the government procurement chapter. The maximum extent that India could go to, is to agree t ensure transparency and cooperation in government procurement matters (including information exchange and sharing of knowledge) as part of the RCEP agreement.
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7th Meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers- Shanghai

The 7th Meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers was held in Shanghai from 1-2 August.  

          A bilateral meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister (CIM) and Chinese Commerce Minister was also held

          The Ministers adopted the following documents at the conclusion of the meeting:

  • 7th BRICS Trade Ministers’ Joint Statement
  • BRICS Trade in Services Cooperation Roadmap
  • BRICS E-Commerce Cooperation Initiative
  • BRICS IPR Cooperation Guidelines
  • Framework on strengthening the Economic and Technical Cooperation of BRICS Countries

BRICS

          BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 43% of the world population, having 30% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade.

  • The acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs” on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and would be amongst the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
  • As a formal grouping, BRIC started after the meeting of the Leaders of Russia, India and China in St. Petersburg on the margins of G8 Outreach Summit in 2006. The grouping was formalized during the 1st meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of UNGA in New York in 2006. The 1st BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 16 June 2009.
  • It was agreed to expand BRIC into BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010. Accordingly, South Africa attended the 3rd BRICS Summit in Sanya, China in April 2011.

 

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