U.S. raises protection to firms in India, IPR issues

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: V. Sudershan   | Photo Credit: V_Sudershan

At the first round in four years of joint trade talks, India and the United States on Tuesday agreed to explore the possibility of enhanced market access to identified agricultural products.

At the talks, the U.S. raised concern over the level of protection India affords to its companies and the intellectual property rights (IPR) regime in India.

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman made a pitch for lower tariffs for import of off-patent drugs to India, and access for US companies to India’s public solar energy and health insurance programmes.

For attracting world class investments, India would need an IPR regime that goes with that, visiting Mr. Froman told reporters about the joint trade talks with India.

During the talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Mr. Froman said he had raised the issue of whether the ‘Make in India’ policy would be one of encouraging globally competitive manufacturing or a less competitive industry behind a wall of protection.

Responding to the question whether the U.S. viewed the Modi government as protectionist, Mr. Froman said: “We have seen, for example, an increase in tariffs in certain ICT products and our hope is India will continue in its tradition of reducing tariffs that it had done periodically in its history to help further open up its economy”.

Mr. Froman also expressed concern on India’s high tariffs on import of off-patent drugs. “Eliminating 21-per cent tariff on a non-patented product is one step that can contribute to making healthcare affordable,” he said.

“We want to work with India for eliminating obstacles in contributing to the solar technology mission for deploying 100 GWs PM Modi has announced, said Mr. Froman.

According to the joint India-US statement issued after the eighth ministerial-level meeting of the India-United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF), the two countries agreed to establish a new technical dialogue for cooperation on plant health, animal health, and food safety issues in a manner that facilitates movement of agricultural goods between the two countries.

The dialogue was held between Ms Sitharaman and the Mr. Froman here.

Visa issues

The two countries, said the joint statement, decided to continue their engagement on visa issues. The US took note of India’s interest in ensuring easier access for Indian professionals in the U.S.

On whether the US believed India’s IPR regime was a factor in determining the success of ‘Make In India’ policy, Mr. Froman said: “A strong IPR regime is one of the factors that businesses look at when they invest, and having for examples provisions in your law that provide civil or criminal approaches to trade secrets theft is one element that most countries have or pursue”.

“I’d say the other area we want to look at in its manufacturing policy is whether a country is taking actions to attract investment or taking actions to mandate it.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 5:16:02 PM |

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