India’s Vaccine Diplomacy: A Potent Tool to Fight COVID-19 in the Global South?

By Biswajit Dhar | Commentary | February 15, 2021

For over two decades, India has acquired the reputation of being the ‘pharmacy of the world’ as its strong generic pharmaceutical industry has supplied affordable medicines to the global markets. Exports of medicines from India, which were around a billion dollars at the turn of the century, had increased to over $20 billion in 2019-20.

Indian companies had made critical interventions during the HIV/AIDS pandemic by supplying affordable antiretroviral medicines to African countries when the major pharmaceutical producers had demanded excessively high prices for these medicines. Subsequently, after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria took shape as a multi-stakeholder initiative to reduce…

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India’s Not So Sweet WTO Sugar Story

By Shalini Bhutani | Commentary | December 18, 2020

On December 16, 2020, the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a subsidy of Rs.35 billion to sugar mills for the export of 60 lakh tonnes of sugar during the October 2020-September 2021 season. In 2018 and 2019, the Government of India had approved the sugar export incentive before October 1, but this year the approval was delayed. Sugar mills will now export their surplus sugar stock. This is supposed to help sugar mills clear their outstanding dues to sugarcane farmers.

India is the world’s second-largest sugar producer (after Brazil) and among the top five sugar exporters. According to official data,…

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What Does India’s Exit from RCEP Indicate?

By Biswajit Dhar | Commentary | December 7, 2020

On November 15, 2020, 15 East Asian countries agreed to take their economic integration several notches higher by forging the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the largest free trade agreement (FTA) ever. In 2019, RCEP members accounted for about 30 percent of world output and population and 28 percent of world trade. But about 44 percent of their total trade was intra-RCEP, which is a major incentive for the members of this agreement to agree to the deal, for this could contribute to the strengthening of the regional value chains. This may well prove propitious for the RCEP member countries in their efforts to…

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The PLI Scheme for Atmanirbhar Bharat: Is There a Break with Past Policies?

By Smitha Francis | Commentary | November 24, 2020

One of the integral components of the economic stimulus packages announced by the Indian government since April 2020 is the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme meant to increase India’s self-reliance in key manufacturing sectors. To eligible companies, the scheme offers an incentive of 4% to 6% on their incremental sales of goods manufactured in India (over 2019-20), for a period of five years. The first tranche of the PLI scheme was announced on April 1 for mobile phones and certain electronic components, and on July 1 for pharmaceutical ingredients, key starting materials, and medical devices.

As part of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) package and with the…

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It’s Time to Stop Corporations Profiting from COVID-19

CSOs | Video | October 19, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health and economic crisis in a generation. Some governments are taking extraordinary measures to fight the pandemic, in order to save lives, protect jobs, and avoid economic disaster. But the little known Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, or ISDS, included in many trade deals, could pressure governments to roll back public-interest measures, or pay millions in compensation to corporations.

ISDS allows foreign companies to sue governments for measures that might impact their profits.

When a government adopts a policy that affects a foreign company’s profits, they can take that government to arbitration to cover their perceived financial loss. ISDS cases could…

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