updated 9/2/2005 9:22:15 AM ET 2005-09-02T13:22:15

India and the United States have resolved a dispute over intellectual property, enabling them to sign an agreement on scientific collaboration next month, India's science minister said Friday.

The dispute prevented the nations from signing the accord during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington in July.

"We have now agreed upon the language and the finer points," Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said at a seminar on the future of scientific cooperation between the two countries.

The agreement, covering areas like health care, biotechnology and nanotechnology, will be signed during Sibal's visit to Washington in October.  It will conclude 10 years of negotiations between the two countries, Sibal said in the southern Indian technology hub of Bangalore.

U. S. companies often complain that Indian laws do not protect patents and copyrights enough, making them reluctant to invest in India.  Earlier this year, India tightened its patent laws and plans similar amendments for data protection.

Relations between the two countries improved after the Cold War, and their annual trade now stands around $22 billion, which Sibal described as "next to nothing, but with potential to increase several times."

Under the agreement, the U.S. will help India set up a body similar to the Food and Drugs Administration to certify clinical trials performed in India for automatic acceptance in the U.S. market.

While a number of U.S. companies are farming out drug trials to India, benefiting from nearly 50 percent cost savings, they are required to go through further procedures in the United States before their studies are accepted, he said.

"It will be an independent Indian entity, but it will follow world-class certification protocols, acceptable to the FDA and other authorities around the world," he said.

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