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US calls off trade hunt against India

The powerful US chamber of commerce that had cross-haired India for its trade and patent practices seems to have called off the hunt, signaling willingness to work with the Narendra Modi government.

business Updated: Nov 02, 2014 08:26 IST
Yashwant Raj
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The powerful US chamber of commerce that had cross-haired India for its trade and patent practices seems to have called off the hunt, signaling willingness to work with the Narendra Modi government.

In a significant shift in position, the chamber’s intellectual property wing dropped its earlier call for punishing India in a submission to the US trade representative (USTR) on Friday.

This is what it had said in a filing to the USTR in February: “The Chamber strongly recommends that India be designated a Priority Foreign Country (PFC).” This could have led to punitive action by the US.

There is no mention of this demand in the comments posted by the chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center on USTR’s website seeking comments in the on-going out-of-cycle review of India.

Also gone was the combative tone of its earlier submissions.

“Our comments were submitted to help both governments move forward with a clear understanding of industry’s interests and objectives from the emerging bilateral dialogue,” center’s Patrick Kilbride told Hindustan Times of the new submission.

All the issues raised earlier remain on the table though.

Kilbride didn’t say that USTR had removed re-designation from the table for the review. It wasn’t an option at all, therefore, even if the chamber of the center had pushed for it.

US businesses have complained of poor protection of intellectual property rights in India, specially in the drugs and IT sectors, and of discriminatory trade practices.

The chamber of commerce led the charge using its clout with lawmakers and the administration to bring pressure on India, which is now under at least two other probes.

The Friday submission strikes a different note. And here is why, according to the center’s note: “It is important—and only fair—to recognize that the difficulties we continue to highlight are a legacy of previous Indian governments.”

That was a different government, it seems to be saying.

The center is keen to work with the Modi government, the note said, “to advance a mutually beneficial agenda that sets a new precedent for India’s future”.

The note goes on to list the center’s engagement with India in the “first months of the Modi administration”. There is no mention though of a speech Prime Minister Modi gave during his visit, at an event hosted by the US-India Business Council, another wing of the US chamber of commerce.