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Businesses Call on USTR to Address Indian Trade Barriers

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Alliance for Fair Trade with India on Nov. 24 urged U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman to take “concrete steps” to address India’s trade barriers during his visit to New Delhi for the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, which is taking place this week after a four-year hiatus. This business coalition believes USTR should try to improve the environment for U.S. businesses that are exporting to and operating in India, including by supporting measures to address prohibitively high tariffs and forced localization requirements that are blocking U.S. exports of a broad range of products.

Also of concern are increased tariffs and burdensome testing and safety requirements on information and communications technology products, the use and threatened use of compulsory licensing on biopharmaceutical products as a tool of industrial policy to promote Indian champions, and measures in Indian law that add an onerous and unnecessary additional criterion for the patentability of medicines. In addition, the coalition stresses the importance of having robust and enforceable copyrights for U.S. and Indian creators given that both countries are major producers of music, films and literature.

The Alliance for Fair Trade with India also said in its letter to Froman that rather than treating the Trade Policy Forum as a mere stocktaking exercise or discussion forum the U.S. and India should strive to deepen bilateral trade and investment ties by treating each other’s exports and products fairly so that the potential of the bilateral strategic partnership can be achieved. The business alliance commended Froman for his efforts to improve U.S.-India trade relations, including the breakthrough in the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and the decision to restart the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum.

Froman did address several market access issues in his Nov. 24 remarks at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi. For example, he said that the quality of the business environment based on transparency, consistency and predictability is “the most important factor determining the future evolution of our bilateral economic relationship.” He also mentioned the need to foster regulatory and legal certainty, maintain policy stability, forge an innovation environment, achieve tax simplification and predictability, raise investment caps, lower tariffs, consult with stakeholders through notice-and-comment procedures, streamline layers of bureaucratic approval and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles. Froman added that enforcing a world-class intellectual property rights regime, including in the areas of patents, copyright, trade secrets, counterfeiting, piracy and compulsory licensing, is in India’s best interest.

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