US Congress Members Support Alliance Fighting Indian Trade Policies

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Washington, DC – On the eve of John Kerry’s maiden trip to India as US Secretary of State, dozens of US lawmakers threw their weight behind a new alliance, which represents major sectors of the US economy, on Tuesday (June 18), the day it was launched. They demanded action to resolve discriminatory trade practices, alleging, among other concerns, the erosion of intellectual property (IP) rights in India.

With Secretary Kerry traveling to India next week for the fourth annual US-India Strategic Dialogue, 169 members of Congress from both parties wrote a 13 page letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over policies of the Indian Government which “favor domestic producers over US exporters.”

“On a bipartisan basis, we understand that the US must demonstrate strong leadership in protecting IP rights and ensure that our trading partners pursue high standards of IP protection,” continued the lawmakers from the House of Representatives.

“The chilling effect on global R&D investment, both in the US and in India, as a result of India’s IP policies, could have a significant negative impact on jobs and investment in the United States,” warned the lawmakers in the letter addressed to the US President.

“Over the last year, Indian policymakers and courts have taken a series of actions designed to block imports by forcing local production of a wide range of manufactured goods,” the members of Congress wrote, echoing the concerns raised by the newly formed Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI), which is co-chaired by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GITC).

“India’s unfair trade practices against US manufactured exports is putting jobs at risk and harming American manufacturing workers,” said NAM Vice President for International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey.

“The Obama Administration must engage the Indian government in high-level discussions to put an end to these practices to protect manufacturers’ competitiveness and jobs,” added Dempsey.

Last week, the NAM, along with other key industry associations, sent a letter to President Obama raising concerns about the harm that India’s unfair trade practices are imposing on manufacturers in the United States.

“India’s recent discriminatory and unfair actions are harming American jobs and have put at risk the $60 billion trade relationship we have with our fourth largest trading partner,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “We are asking the Obama Administration to engage India’s government at the highest levels to put an end to these harmful practices and to prevent this from happening again. The NAM is committed to working with our industry partners to ensure that India abides by global trade rules to protect America’s competitiveness.”

The allegations detail that over the last year, the Government of India has systematically discriminated against a wide range of US innovative products and exports in order to benefit India’s business and industrial community at the expense of American jobs. These actions constitute a disturbing trend that puts at risk a growing bilateral trade relationship worth over $60 billion in 2012 alone.

“In recent months, India has systematically failed to respect global intellectual property standards, causing an impact to its investment potential,” said Mark Elliot, Executive Vice President of the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) of the US Chamber of Commerce.

“From unprecedented patent revocations and denials to insufficient copyright enforcement, India has established itself as an outlier in the global economy. If this is truly to be India’s ‘Decade of Innovation,’ the government must promote robust IP policies that incubate both homegrown and international innovators,” urged Elliot.

The GIPC on its website cited its inaugural study, International Intellectual Property Index: Measuring Momentum, comparing IP environments across the globe, alleging that India consistently ranked last behind China among nearly all five indicators, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, enforcement, and international treaty participation.

AFTI announced its determination in the coming weeks to work with the Obama Administration and members of Congress to pursue public policy options that help create a level playing field for US exporters operating in India. Additionally, AFTI decided to outline the consequences of inaction, specifically as they relate to job creation, economic growth and continued innovation.

AFTI members include some of the most powerful organizations in the US: The National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, American Business Conference, American Foundry Society, Biotechnology Industry Association, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, CropLife America, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, Motion Picture Association of America, National Equipment Manufacturers Association, National Foreign Trade Council, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Solar Energy Industries Association, and The Telecommunications Industry Association. 

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