US Trade Representative Michael Froman will announce a new “trade enforcement action” with regard to India in Washington on Monday, the federal agency said, raising concerns that there could be another spike in tensions in the bilateral relationship.
The upcoming announcement comes in the wake of reports highlighting the lobbying by industrial collectives such as the US Chamber of Commerce, to get the Obama administration to press India further over its intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.
Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma however indicated that the USTR had not given New Delhi any advanced notice about the trade enforcement action.
Other groups such as the US International Trade Commission have scheduled hearing this week to “look into Indian trade and investment practices.”
In particular, the US Chamber of Commerce is said to be urging the USTR to classify India as a “Priority Foreign Country,” described as “a tag given to the worst offenders when it comes to protecting intellectual property,” and potentially a trade sanctions trigger.
In its annual “Special 301 Report” on the adequacy and effectiveness of IP rights protection by US trading partners, the USTR in 2013 noted, “India remains on the Priority Watch List… [after it made] limited progress in improving its weak IPR legal framework and enforcement system.”
That report further emphasised, “In many areas, however, IPR protection and enforcement challenges are growing, and there are serious questions regarding the future condition of the innovation climate in India across multiple sectors and disciplines.”
The USTR said at the time that Washington “continues to urge India to reconsider how it can meet legitimate domestic policy objectives by fostering rather than undermining that innovation climate.”