The U.S.-India business community wants President Barack Obama to endorse India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and address issues of concern for New Delhi like the H-1B visa fee hike and fears about outsourcing of U.S. jobs to India.
Ahead of Mr. Obama’s India visit this week, they have also advocated the lifting of most dual-use export licensing requirements specific to India and batted for making licensing and clearance for defence articles easier for India.
FDI investment cap
At the same time, the report submitted by the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) has said suggested that India needs to increase the FDI investment cap to 74 per cent to spur greater investment and transfer of technology.
“The United Nations Security Council remains the clearest symbol of decision—making in world security matters.
The U.S.-India business community strongly feels that our partnership should begin here,” said the report ‘Partners in Prosperity Business Leading the Way’ released by the USIBC, whose chairman is Terry McGraw, chairman president and CEO of The McHGraw-Hill Companies.
“President Obama calling for a renewal of the UN Security Council and the inclusion of India as one of its new permanent members will galvanise both societies, laying the groundwork for deeper collaboration at every level,” it said.
Outsourcing of U.S. jobs
Observing that the U.S. midterm election season has resurrected unfounded fears about outsourcing of U.S. jobs to India, the report also noted that the U.S. Congress’ recent move to raise H1-B and L1 visa fees for foreign companies has caused concern in the industry.
“These bumps in the road present both a challenge and an opportunity. The way ahead is full of promise, but in order to get there, executives in the US and India must bring along and carry public sentiment on both sides favouring deeper U.S.-India commercial ties.
“To accomplish this, we must achieve positive change via specific advocacy,” said the 12-page report.
It said the U.S. should treat India as a favoured nation when it comes to information exchange relative to advanced technology or defence cooperation.
The U.S. should also raise India’s partner status and category tier-listing on the National Disclosure Policy, the U.S. Munitions List, and the Commerce Controls List, it said.
Contending that American procedures are complicated when it comes to defence articles, it said the US should designate a senior official with the authority to act as ombudsman to resolve complex licensing and clearance issues.
At the same time, it says India has the responsibility to make its complex bureaucratic procedures defense procurement simpler. It also called for increasing the 26 per cent cap on FDI in the defence industry to 74 per cent.
USIBC also urged India to open the multi-brand retail sector to organised players.
With U.S. interest in India at an all-time high, U.S. industry believes that the natural next step is to conceive a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) especially tailored for India.
The two countries should revitalise Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations to come up with a treaty that will spur greater investment and employment opportunities in both the US and India.
Businesses in both countries must advocate for the protection and vigilant enforcement of intellectual property across all sectors. This will spur research, invention, and discovery, it said, adding that the US and Indian governments should facilitate greater movement of technical professionals between the US and India by advocating a special technical visa/work permit regime.
“Developing a viable alternative to a Totalisation Agreement, and making it suitable to today’s Knowledge Partnership with India, is a practical fix which is especially important as our two economies become more closely intertwined,” the report said, adding that the industry should continue to press for the opening up of India’s legal sector to foreign law firms.
“Legal alignment will be a conduit for greater two-way investment between our economies,” it said.
USIBC also called for modernising US export controls by lifting most dual-use export licensing requirements specific to India. This would place India on par with the closest allies of the United States, it said.
It has also demanded granting dual-use licensing exception for intra company transfers that would permit U.S. companies to transfer commodities, software, and technology to their foreign subsidiaries without prior approval.
It also pressed for full and satisfactory implementation of the U.S.-India civil nuclear accord, the successful implementation of which will spur a new era of commerce in high technology.
It called for encouraging establishment of a Global Entry-Trusted Traveller programme between the US and India to allow business travellers between the two countries greater ease of access.
Besides, it supported a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement that will allow India to upgrade its Air Traffic Control technology to world-class standards.