Inside U.S. Trade: NAM, tech industry group lay out India priorities ahead of Modi visit

The National Association of Manufacturers and the Information Technology Industry Association have issued wish lists for the U.S.-India trade relationship ahead of President Trump’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi next week.

Both groups want the U.S. to hold India accountable for tariff cuts it pledged to enact under the Information Technology Agreement. India came under fire last year from the U.S. and other World Trade Organization members to explain why tariffs on a number of products allegedly covered under the plurilateral 1996 ITA were not in violation of its commitments under the tariff-cutting agreement.

ITI, in a blog post written by its global policy manager, Cody Ankeny, urged the U.S. to request that India “refrain from applying overly burdensome product testing and certification regimes,” and called on the U.S. to cooperate with India “to promote interoperable, internationally oriented cybersecurity and privacy regimes that allow the free flow of data across borders.”

NAM issued its priorities in a “scorecard” of the business group’s priorities and Modi’s progress in fulfilling business-friendly reforms.

Of the 15 items on the card, only one has been completed to NAM’s satisfaction: resuming and expanding dialogue with the U.S. on key commercial issues.

Four are listed as in progress: streamlining licensing and government approval processes for doing business in India; implementing parts of India’s National IPR Policy; fully implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement; and finalizing details on how India’s nuclear liability pool will operate.

NAM gave a “mixed” rating to India’s opening of its “investment environment for manufacturers in the United States, allowing 100 percent foreign ownership across manufacturing industries and eliminating bureaucratic hurdles.”

Nine priorities held by NAM were marked with a red “X,” including India meeting its ITA commitments; removing localization rules in key sectors including solar manufacturing; compliance with WTO decisions, including those in solar and poultry fights with the U.S.; and other issues involving IP and data localization.

The U.S. is working on a list of “deliverables” it hopes the U.S. and India can make progress on soon, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday.
Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Lighthizer said he has been involved in a series of “pre-meetings” to develop a list of items he would “euphemistically call irritants” that “clearly need to be addressed.”

“And in this area of intellectual property protections there are several,” he testified. “And we’ve had several stakeholders come in, quite frankly, and complain about not only intellectual property protections in India but also pricing on pharmaceuticals and medical devices and the like. So we have a list of things that we want to go over, and we’re hoping that we end up with deliverables that come out of the time of the president’s meeting with the prime minister.”