EU free-trade pact moves closer

India and the European Union have agreed to speed up negotiations for a long-anticipated free trade pact, aiming to seal an deal later this year that would nearly double their trade with each other.

The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said considerable progress had been made during a one-day summit with EU officials. However, health industry workers worry that India may bow to EU demands for strict intellectual property protections and investor guarantees.

India's $26bn generic drugs industry is a lifeline for people in Africa, unable to pay sky-high Western prices to treat illnesses such as HIV, malaria and asthma.