The Economic Times: Press Trust of India
The Economic Times: Press Trust of India
July 22, 2013
WASHINGTON: 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.
“US businesses are eager to partner with India in growing the country’s economy for our mutual benefit, but they cannot do so if the Indian government follows a course of discrimination, inadequate enforcement, and unfair treatment,” it said.
“With the overwhelming support from Congress and critical US industries, the vice president has a unique opportunity to show the administration’s commitment to protecting US innovative and creative sectors by raising this important issue during his high-level meetings in India,” said Mark Elliot, a co-chair of AFTI and the executive vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center.
“American businesses want to continue to invest in India, but not at the expense of American workers and economic progress,” said Linda Dempsey, a co-chair of AFTI and the National Association of Manufacturers Association (NAM) vice president for International Economic Affairs.
Business organisations that signed the letter include: The National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce, American Foundry Society, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, INDA, Association of the NonWoven Fabrics Industry, Biotechnology Industry Association, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, CropLife America and Motion Picture Association of America.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Recording Industry Association of America, Solar Energy Industries Association, and the Telecommunications Industry Association, were also among the companies who urged Biden to take up their cause during his India visit.