US International Trade Commission to hear cases of bias against American companies in India
Feb 12, 2014
Source : The Economic Times


DELHI: The US International Trade Commission would begin public hearing on Wednesday as part of its probe into Indian policies that allegedly discriminate against US trade and investments. The quasi-judicial body set up by the US Congress is currently investigating whether and to what extent Indian polices discriminate against US players.

Among those listed to depose on the first day are Mark Eliott, executive vice president, Global Intellectual Property Centre, US Chambers of Commerce, Michael Schlesinger, counsel of Washington based International Intellectual Property Alliance, Brian Pomper, executive director of Washington based Alliance for Fair Trade among other academics.

The next day Ron Somers, president of US India Business Council, Pallavi Shroff, on behalf of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Jerry Rao, former chairman National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) would present before US ITC their testimony.

Others who would present their version include Rod Hunter of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ("PhRMA"), DG Shah, secretary general of Indian Pharma Alliance, Phillip Blake, president of Bayer Healthcare US. Earlier this year a US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) index put India at the bottom among 25 countries, on protection for intellectual property environment.

IP experts, generic drugmakers and Indian industry questioned the methodology and even the motive behind the index. Shah of IPA called it a 'tool' to push American industry interests by pressurizing Indian government.

Subsequently a few days back, GIPC urged US Trade Representative office, 'to designate India a Priority Foreign Country in order to strengthen engagement with India to address the rapidly deteriorating intellectual property environment in this market'. That would dub India as one of the worst offenders in providing protection to IP climate.

Confederation of Indian Industry on Tuesday, said in a statement GIPC index does not represent the true picture of India's IP ecosystem. CII has also expressed concern about the suggestion of designating India Priority Foreign Country, the classification given to foreign countries that "deny adequate and effective" protection of IPRs, calling parts of its methodology 'perception based'.

In August 2013, US senators wrote to USITC urging it to conduct an investigation of Indian industrial policies that discriminate against US imports and investment for the sake of supporting Indian domestic industries, and the effect that those barriers have on the US economy and US jobs'.

The letter pointed at 'significant tariff and non-tariff barriers' to US goods and service participation in sectors such as retail and agriculture, new localization-forcing measures such as local content and technology transfer requirements in the green technology and information and communications technology sectors.

"And India has not yet taken action to fully and effectively protect and enforce copyrights, including in the digital environment, and has applied its patent law in a discriminatory manner, particularly against innovative US pharmaceutical companies, so as to advantage its domestic industries," the letter from senators said.

The USITC was asked to prepare a summary of US firms' perception of recent changes in India's trade and investment policies in selected sectors and the effects of these changes on US firms strategies towards India.     


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