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US business group wants Obama to raise trade issues with Modi

"PM Narendra Modi has declared India 'open for business'. But to reboot troubled commercial ties, he must make promises into reality," said AFTI co-chair Linda Dempsey.

Lalit K Jha | September 30, 2014 | Updated 18:42 IST
PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi (Photo: Reuters)

A US business advocacy group on Friday said that concrete action is needed to remove longstanding Indian trade and investment barriers even as it appealed to President Barack Obama to take up the issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington next week.

"Prime Minister Modi has declared India 'open for business'. But to reboot a troubled and under performing bilateral commercial relationship, he must translate promising rhetoric into real results," said Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI) co-chair Linda Dempsey.

"Manufacturers remain hopeful positive progress can be achieved. We will be watching for outcomes that can put US-India trade and investment ties on a positive track and establish the foundation for a balanced and mutually beneficial partnership," Dempsey said after AFTI sent a letter to Obama urging action on the issues it raised.

Welcoming Modi's visit, AFTI noted his positive statements and early steps aimed at improving India's business climate, and urged Obama to prioritise action to strengthen intellectual property protection and enforcement in India and to remove Indian trade and investment barriers harming a wide range of US industry sectors from manufacturing, entertainment, and agriculture to telecom, solar energy, biopharmaceuticals, and semiconductors.

"Thus far, however, the new Indian government has pursued troubling policies of its own. In particular, the government abrogated the commitment India made at the World Trade Organization Ministerial in Bali in December, 2013 and thereby blocked the implementation of a global trade facilitation agreement agreed to unanimously by all 160 members of the WTO , a move that threatens to undermine the global rules-based trading system," the letter said.

"The new Indian government has also raised tariffs and imposed burdensome new testing requirements on information and communication technology products from the US and other countries. These actions send perplexing and contradictory new signals about India's role in the global marketplace," it said.

"Your meeting with Prime Minister Modi later this month is a critical opportunity to press for concrete action and real results that can drive economic growth in both our countries," the letter said addressing Obama.

"If the Prime Minister is serious about an economic reform agenda that would give India and the US a chance to reinvigorate bilateral trade and investment ties and build a deeper and more reciprocal commercial relationship, we stand ready to work with you and his government in that endeavour," said the letter.

"The Prime Minister's recent focus on establishing a uniform IP policy is a promising step toward reversing policy choices that have consistently undermined IP rights in the past," said Mark Elliot, co-chair of AFTI and executive vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Centre.

"In his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, the opportunity is ripe for President Obama to foster an open dialogue on how both nations can advance shared innovation and leverage mutually beneficial investments essential to our economic growth," he said.


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