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BW Businessworld

American Biz Groups: India Hurting US Jobs, Economy

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A group of major American business organisations and advocacy groups on 18 June launched a new alliance against what they allege as India's "discriminatory" economic policies, including intellectual property issues, which they claim hurt US jobs and economy.

Co-chaired by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC), the Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI) was launched in Washington ahead of the India visit of the US Secretary of State John Kerry, for the fourth India-US Strategic Dialogue.

"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," Dempsey said.

"In recent months, India has systematically failed to respect global intellectual property standards, causing an impact to its investment potential," alleged Mark Elliot, executive vice president of the GIPC.

"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," Elliot said.

The alliance alleged that over the last year, India has systematically discriminated against a wide range of innovative US 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, it said.

In a cross-sector report comparing IP systems across the globe, 'Measuring Momentum', the GIPC found that India consistently ranked last, behind Brazil, China and Russia in promotion and enforcement of patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

Earlier this month, in a letter sent to President Obama, 17 business groups had urged the US government to end discrimination against innovative products and manufacturing exports and restore American jobs currently being lost to India's "unfair trade policies".

"It is time the Government of India ended discrimination against our nation's exporters and took steps to ensure it is not repeated in the future," the letter noted.

In the coming weeks, AFTI will work with the administration and members of Congress to pursue public policy options that help create a level playing field for US exporters operating in India.