India has said that the US Special 301 report, which tries to put pressure on countries to enhance their intellectual property rights (IPRs) legislation, violated World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

“Under the WTO regime, any dispute between two countries needs to be referred to the Dispute Settlement Body and unilateral actions are not tenable.

Special 301, which is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country, is inconsistent with the established norms of the WTO,” Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The Minister said that India continued to be placed on the ‘priority watch list’ of the Special 301 report.

Listed as a ‘priority watch’ country means that the US government believes that a country’s IP laws are not adequate to protect the interests of its investors.

A country can next be classified as a ‘priority foreign country’, following which the US could impose economic sanctions against it.

“The government is committed to fully utilising all the flexibilities provided under the TRIPS agreement to protect the domestic pharmaceutical sector from pressure exerted by foreign countries,” Sitharaman said.