Business Standard: US companies ask Biden to raise concerns about Indian policies

Business Standard: US companies ask Biden to raise concerns about Indian policies
July 22, 2013
By Doug Palmer

More than 40 American business organisations today asked US Vice President Joe Biden, who is on a visit to India, to raise with the Indian leadership their concerns over the country’s trade and intellectual property protection policies

In a letter to the Vice President, these organisations outlined how India is allegedly imposing regulations that restrict US industries’ ability to compete against the country’s unfair advantage and have failed to respect internationally recognised intellectual property rights.

Notably, the Indian Government has strongly defended its policies and has denied allegations of not providing level playing field to the US businesses.

The organisations under the banner of recently formed, Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI), noted that if these actions are allowed to continue without a response from the US, other countries could emulate India’s self-defeating economic strategy.

Biden arrived in New Delhi today on a four-day trip aimed at bolstering ties in key sectors of trade, energy, defence and security.

Before Biden’s trip, a senior Administration official had said that economic policies is one of the top priorities for the Vice President in his meetings with the Indian leaders.

“Many US companies are facing serious issues doing business in India that currently limit the potential of that relationship,” the letter said.

These issues are systemic, going far beyond any one industry sector, it said.

In the manufacturing, agriculture, telecommunications, biopharmaceutical, solar energy, entertainment, semi-conductor, and other sectors, many companies face measures that are discriminatory, unfair, and/or inconsistent with international norms, the companies said in the letter.

Noting that last week’s announcement regarding a review of India’s Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy related to information and communications technology equipment is a step in the right direction, the AFTI said the measure does not fully resolve the PMA issue, since the policy has not been permanently and beneficially reformed, nor does it address the range of other concerns that have been voiced.

The letter alleged that Indian tax authorities increasingly are imposing discriminatory taxes on US multinationals, making US businesses less competitive and triggering expensive litigation to resolve tax controversies.

New Delhi is also failing to respect intellectual property rights by denying, breaking, or revoking patents on agricultural products and nearly a dozen medicines for the purpose of enabling domestic companies to manufacture them in India, often for export, to the disadvantage of American companies and American workers, the letter said.