An independent US fact-finding federal agency has said India made “significant” changes to improve trade and investment conditions after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office.
Tasked to investigate the Modi government specifically by US congress, the agency, US International Trade Commission, found much to praise and little to criticize.
It said in a report made public Thursday “the Modi government made significant changes to some of the barriers to trade and investment identified” in the previous report.
It identified four areas broadly of improvement: foreign direct investment, tariffs and customs procedures, localization requirements and standards and technical regulations.
Where it found lack of progress, such as on land acquisition, taxation and other areas, the commission blamed “legislative challenges”, not a Modi government inadequacy.
In all, the report is a rare endorsement from an agency which was exceedingly critical of India in a report in 2014, looking at the pre-Modi period of the trade and investment climate.
Two powerful bodies of US congress — Ways and Means Committee of the House and the Senate Finance Committee —tasked USITC to look at the Modi government last year.
In fact, they sent the request to the commission around the time of Modi’s first visit to the US as prime minister last September raising questions i if it was timed to embarrass him.
It may have been, but it turned out well for Modi.
Even Alliance for Free Trade with India, a group dedicated to hounding India as its name suggests, grudgingly acknowledged the “positive steps” mentioned in the report.
But, as it would be expected to, it sought more action from India saying “sufficient reforms that would significantly improve India’s business and investment climate have yet to be made”.