New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has firmly directed Indian side not to take IPR obligation, particularly in the pharmaceuticals, beyond domestic laws or as mandated in a WTO pact, while entering into a FTA with European Union.

"The Prime Minister firmly directed that the Indian side shall not take on any obligation beyond TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights)/domestic laws," a PMO statement
said today, giving a brief about meeting of the Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC) held here on Friday.

While reviewing the status of the negotiations, it was observed that certain concerns have been raised about the Indian stand on issues relating to intellectual property rights, especially in the context of the pharma products.

India is in advanced stage of negotiations with the 27-nation European Union bloc for an Free Trade Agreement, officially known as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement

The EU has been demanding that India should enforce a stricter IPR regime than what has been mandated in its domestic laws and the WTO agreement on TRIPS.

EU is India's largest trading partner with commercial engagement of USD 74 billion in 2009-10.

The TERC, headed by the Prime Minister, also approved launch of negotiations for an FTA with Australia.

It was apprised to the TERC that while there has been a substantial growth in bilateral merchandise trade with Australia, "tariffs and non-tariff barriers continue to raise the cost of imports, imposing implicit taxes on businesses and consumers alike".

It was felt that a comprehensive FTA with Australia would benefit both the countries.

India's bilateral trade with Australia stood at around USD 14 billion in the financial year 2009-10.

The committee which comprises, among others, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, also considered proposal for establishing a joint study group to examine feasibility of comprehensive FTA/Preferential Trade Agreement with the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).