AFTI Policy Experts Outline Trade Policy Priorities for U.S. Businesses

During a call with members of the media today, AFTI policy experts detailed the current trade barriers preventing U.S. businesses from investing in India. With a focus on President Obama’s upcoming visit to India early next week, they outlined concrete steps U.S. businesses would like to see India take to encourage foreign investment and policy priorities.

Chris Moore, Senior Director for International Business Policy for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), began his remarks by recognizing that there has been a reboot of the relationship between the United States and India. He noted the recent bilateral Trade Policy Forum as evidence of that.

He went on to state, “Next week is a critical opportunity for President Obama and Prime Minister Modi to engage business leaders from both countries to begin to define a shared vision and a common economic agenda and to commit to specific initial steps necessary to get there. Bilateral engagement is essential, but to put the U.S.-India trade and investment relationship on a positive path, talk must turn to action that delivers real results.”

Additionally, he noted that next week the two leaders have the opportunity to work together to level the playing field for U.S. businesses wishing to trade and invest in India.

“By their actions, India’s leadership can not only build more constructive commercial relationships with the United States and other countries, but also advance their own domestic priorities. Manufacturers in the United States want the Indian economy to grow and succeed. If PM Modi is serious about improving India’s business environment, we stand ready to work with him.

During his remarks, Patrick Kilbride, Executive Director for International Intellectual Property for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), noted that prior to Prime Minister Modi’s election, the United States saw an erosion of intellectual property rights and a deteriorating environment for investors in innovative industries. He went on to explain that since Prime Minister Modi’s election, we are seeing potential for change.

“We see a relationship emerging here which really transcends where we’ve been in the past with India, and it really opens up unlimited potential for collaboration for enhanced competitiveness for both our economies, but there are concrete steps that need to take place for that to happen, so we’re watching very closely the process that’s unfolding …”

Kilbride also noted, “Many of the key cultural, technological and other innovations we see have come out of India, but what India has not done as well in our view is to bring innovative products to market. The difference is intellectual property [protection].”

The two speakers outlined some specific examples of changes India can make in order to begin fostering a bilateral trade environment between the United States and India:

  • Lower tariffs that exceed 100 percent on products ranging from autos to textiles to distilled spirits
  • Restore zero duties on a range of telecommunications products covered by the WTO information technology agreement
  • Eliminate forced local production of solar energy and telecoms equipment
  • Strengthen India’s protection of ideas, brands and innovation
  • Review the enhanced efficacy step to determine if it stymies incremental innovation and access to needed medications
  • Explicitly refute use of compulsory licensing as a commercial tool
  • Refine the administrative process to streamline patents and IP protections