Hindustan Times: India, US to urgently address bilateral biz concerns

Hindustan TimesIndia, US to urgently address bilateral biz concerns
October 14, 2013

India and the United States on Sunday agreed to urgently address all trade and investments policy issues of bilateral concern beleaguering relations lately.

The two countries also agreed to work towards “greater understanding” on complex issues such as taxation in India and the impact of immigration reforms on Indian IT firms in the US.

Finance minister P Chidamabaram and his US counterpart Jacob Lew met here in DC with their respective delegations for the India-US economic partnership dialogue.

The same issues were discussed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with US President Barack Obama at a White House meeting in September, on his way to New York for the UN meetings.

They had also agreed to explore the possibility of setting up a joint committee – a US initiative – to address these concerns. That didn’t figure in the statement issued on Sunday.

It couldn’t be confirmed if it had been dropped or was just not mentioned in the statement issued on behalf of finance secretary Arvind Mayaram on the partnership dialogue.

India-US bilateral trade in goods and services stood at $92.5 billion in 2012, up from $59.9 billion in 2009. And Indian investments in the US and vice versa have grown rapidly.

But some US companies and their trade association have been mounting pressure on the administration and congress to make India drop what they say are discriminatory practices.

They have complained about preferential market access to local manufacturers, compulsory licensing and other intellectual property rights issues and transfer pricing.

India has relented on some of those issues — dropping preferential market access for the electronics industry, for instance, and on transfer pricing.

But the US continues to press India on other issues, such as reforms in the financial sector, which New Delhi has said, will be done in the coming winter session of Parliament.

India has complained about the obvious targeting of Indian IT firms such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Satyam Mahindra in the ongoing efforts to reform the US immigration system.

The statement said the two countries agreed on the need for  governance reforms at the International Monetary Fund and “credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness”.

Finance minister Chidambaram had attacked the Fund on Saturday questioning its pessimistic projection of India’s economic growth rate for 2013.

India and the US also discussed deepening their commitment to implementing international standards on money laundering and combating financing of terrorism.

They will be “targeting the financial networks and fundraising activities of terrorist organizations, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba/ Jamaat-ud Dawa and the Haqqani Network, and individual terrorists associated with these organisations”.