Ahead of India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting on Tuesday, 15 top American business organisations have appealed to US Trade Representative Michael Froman to address long-standing irritants and barriers in bilateral trade and investment relations.
Froman will co-chair the TPF meet, a government-to-government trade dialogue aimed at increasing bilateral investment between the two countris, along with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday.
In a letter to the US Trade Representative, 15 top American trade bodies outlined specific issues pertaining current domestic policies, including high tariffs and discriminatory forced localisation policies, burdensome requirements on information and communication technology products.
The US business groups, however, welcomed steps taken to resolve the stalled World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement while emphasising that concrete action is needed on several longstanding and new trade barriers.
The business bodies demanded that measures be taken to address matters related to increased tariffs and burdensome testing and safety requirements on information and communication technology products, compulsory licensing on bio-pharmaceutical products and enforceable copyrights for US and Indian creators alike.
"The Trade Policy Forum comes amid mixed signals from the Indian government, which has declared India 'open for business', but recently raised tariffs and imposed burdensome new testing requirements on telecommunications products and, according to press reports, is also planning to implement new localisation policies.
For the Trade Policy Forum to be meaningful, it must ultimately lead to concrete steps to improve the environment for businesses in the US that are exporting to and operating in India," they said in a joint statement issuedon Monday.
These concrete steps should include measures to address any number of pressing concerns, including prohibitively high tariffs and discriminatory forced localisation requirements that are blocking US exports of a wide range of products.
"The potential of our partnership and the stakes for businesses and workers in the US are simply too high for meetings like the Trade Policy Forum to serve simply as stocktaking exercises or forums for discussion.
We will be responsible, influential world powers together only when both governments, through their actions, treat each other's exports and products fairly," they said in the correspondence.
Among the signatories to the letter were American Business Conference, American Foundry Society, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Biotechnology Industry Organization, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, CropLife America, Emergency Committee for American Trade, INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and Motion Picture Association of America etc.