Visiting Finance Minister Chidambaram Meets US Lawmakers, CEOs, but No Press

Must read

Washington, DC – Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram visited the United States last week, meeting with American lawmakers and top Obama Administration officials, but avoided meeting any journalists, ensuring no direct questions could be posed to the top Indian fiscal official on the recent decelerating Indian growth rate and freefall of the Indian Rupee.

California Representative Ami Bera, the only Indian American member of Congress, however, shared with the media details about the discussions which took place with other members of Congress and Minister Chidambaram.

“As we look at our future partnership, a robust trading relationship between India and the US is important to both our economies’ success and creates jobs here at home,” said Bera. “In my home state of California, exports to India are worth more than $3.7 billion annually,” the congressman noted, urging the participants, “We must facilitate, not complicate our expanding economic relationship. US policymakers should also foster the growth of investments that Indian-based companies are making on American soil.”

The overall US-India economic and trade relationship is growing steadily and there has been a nearly fivefold increase in bilateral trade between the countries since 2000. However, Bera said that American businesses have growing concerns regarding India’s disregard for intellectual property protection, enforced local content rules, and investment barriers against US companies trying to do business in India.

Bera disclosed that concerns were also raised from Indian-based firms about certain provisions of the US Senate’s proposed immigration bill, which would limit the free movement of technical professionals.

The congressman argued for finding a middle ground to resolve these issues so that the two countries can continue expanding their trading relations as their economies become increasingly linked.

Bera is slated to travel to India later this summer to help promote the growing trade relationship between the US and India, especially as it relates to businesses in his Sacramento County, California district.

Counsellor Sridharan Madhusudhanan (Press, Information and Culture) also provided subjective details of the visit, sans any direct quotes from the visiting Minister Chidambaram.

Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao and Secretary of Economic Affairs Arvind Mayaram also attended the hour-long meeting of the visiting Minister Chidambaram with Congressman Joe Crowley (NY), the Co-Chair of the House India Caucus, in addition to Congress members Sandy Levin (MI), Erik Paulsen (MN), John Larson (CT), and Ami Bera (CA). The Indian Embassy statement on the meeting said, “Issues such as compulsory licensing, patent protection, preferential market access, immigration bill in the US Congress and increase in FDI in areas such as defense and financial services were discussed.”

“He [Chidambaram] also explained that Indian law affirms intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the process of granting compulsory license and patent registration are WTO compliant and subject to judicial review,” the statement said, adding, “On immigration, the Finance Minister expressed India’s discomfort especially because the issue of temporary relocation of knowledge workers (which is not ‘immigration’ by any definition) has been linked to the larger issue of immigration. In his view, the restrictions sought to be placed on knowledge workers amount to non-tariff barriers.”

The visiting Indian Finance Minister also met with CEOs (chief executive officers) and top management officials of a number of American companies which have substantial investments in India. According to the Indian Embassy statement, the minister’s discussions focused on the current business and investment environment in India.

More articles

Latest article