U.S. envoy calls on India to engage in discussions regarding intellectual property rights

New Delhi, Apr.26: U.S. Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, has asked India to engage in discussions related to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The United States has listed India in Priority Watch List – countries whose practices on protecting intellectual property, which it believes should be monitored closely.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) here on Friday, Powell also reiterated Washington’s critical view point of ‘forced local requirements’ implemented India.

“And while we are strongly opposed to forced local requirements we are sympathetic towards the desire to develop a stronger manufacturing sector and already to discuss how India might develop that capacity in a way that is not constrain trade. By the same token we ask that India engage with the United States, at senior and at working levels, to have those difficult discussions on issues such as intellectual property rights and taxation,” she said.

Earlier in March, the U.S. voiced concern over protection of patents on safer and more effective next-generation medicines in India upon fear that authorities are considering to allow more Indian firms to make new varieties of cheap generic drugs still on patent.

Powell added that United States wanted to see bilateral trade grow to USD 500 billion a year. It is about USD 100 billion currently.

On the other hand, Secretary, Department of industrial Policy and Promotions (DIPP), Amitabh Kant, stressed that US immigration reform bill imperative to IT sector.

“To us it is important that the US immigration reform bill must address the concerns of the India information technology industries,” said Kant.

Capital investment contributes nearly 35 percent to India’s USD 1.8 trillion economy, but it barely grew in the fiscal year that ended in March as delays in clearances from various ministries and funding issues grounded many major projects.

The United States sees India as a natural ally on a range of issues and a potential counterbalance to China in Asia. In 2010, President Barack Obama declared the U.S.-Indian relationship would be “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”

Trade in goods was USD 63.7 billion last year, and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden last year called for that to grow to half a trillion dollars in five years.

Growth in Asia’s third-largest economy has almost halved to below 5 percent in the past two years on weak investment and consumer demand, the worst slowdown since the 1980s.

Polls show the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, is on course to win most seats in the election that began on April 7.

In its election manifesto, the BJP said it would welcome foreign direct investment in all sectors that create local jobs, – except for supermarkets, a setback to global chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Carrefour

It remains unclear though whether the BJP will follow through on the supermarket ban or whether its announcement was just pre-election rhetoric. (ANI)