India Tuesday offered to set up a pharma unit to manufacture anti-HIV/AIDS drugs in a least developed country to deal with the spread of the deadly disease in Africa, as part of its efforts to promote south-south cooperation.
The offer was made to the visiting UN under secretary general Anwarul K Chowdhury during his meeting with Foreign Secretary Shayam Saran.
By setting up a unit in a Least Developed Countries, India could take advantage of 'Trips Declaration' in the WTO that allows LDCs to produce generic drugs up to 2016 at a cheaper cost to address public health concerns.
Chowdhury, who was incharge of LDCs, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries, was appreciative of India's efforts in helping LDCs, saying that New Delhi had already committed $500 million development assistance to eight West African countries under the 'Team-9' programme.
As the Team-9 programme includes six West African LDCs, there could be overlapping in India's commitment of $600 million assistance to LDCs over a eight-year period ending 2010.
India had also committed to technical assistance, including setting up training facility, technology transfer, farming technology and dairy technology, he said.
India, China and Brazil have also committed to provide duty-free and quota free market access to LDC during the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial meet.
Chowdhury said the setting up of an IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) fund to assist LDCs was a welcome development and he was "very encouraged" by the response of Indian government to help LDCs and New Delhi's assistance was expected to only grow in the coming years.
He appreciated the growing two-way trade between India and African countries. India's exports grew from $4.4 billion in 2001 to $6.3 billion in 2004, while imports increased from $5.1 billion to $7.7 billion in the same period.
Of the 50 LDCs, 34 are from the African continent.
Under IBSA programme, India could identify one of the seven LDCs in the South Asian region - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar and Nepal for focussed attention, he said.