PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump (File Photo). Photo by Livemint.

Trump’s ‘retaliation’ threat over Hodroxychloroquine, India to partially lift the export ban

TNW, New Delhi, April 7. Indian government has decided to partially lift the export ban on Hodroxychloroquine along with few other medicines. The move comes a day after American President Donald Trump threatened to retaliate if India does not supply the medicine which he called ‘game changer in the fight against COVID-19’.

“I would be surprised if that (not exporting the drug) were his (Prime Minister Modi’s) decision. He’d have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we’d appreciate your allowing our supply to come out.

“If he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?” Trump told reporters in a news briefing at white house.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), on Tuesday morning, announced that India has decided to “license paracetamol and HCQ to all neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities”. “We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” the ministry said. The government had imposed a blanket ban on export of medicines considering possible internal requirements in view of looming fear of spread of COVID-19.

MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said, “Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people. In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products. Meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment was made of possible requirements under different scenarios. After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted.” 

Paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position will be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow Indian companies to meet the export commitments that they are contracted to.

Trump’s threat and India’s decision to partially lift the ban on exports have triggered strong reactions from opposition leaders as well as a section of social media users.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal reminded that at the time of Chinese intrusion how (PM Narendra) Modi (then Gujarat Chief minister) had advised the (erstwhile) UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government to look into the eye (of China) and now when Trump threatened, you gave in.’

On the other hand, Shashi Tharoor wrote on his Facebook page, “Never in my decades of experience in world affairs have I heard a Head of State or Government openly threatening another like this. What makes Indian hydroxychloroquine “our supply”, Mr President? It only becomes your supply when India decides to sell it to you.”

On Twitter, actor Vipin Sharma referring to the Namste Trump event asked, ” So what happened to all the money we spent on hiding our poor population and wasting million to welcome him.

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