Pressure is mounting on President Barack Obama ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to force India to roll back its so-called discriminatory trade practices.
There are also expectations that a deal may be announced or signed during the two leaders’ meeting at the White House here on Friday to move forward the stalled civil nuclear deal.
“If we can see some progress coming out of this meeting (on the civic-nuke deal), that would be (welcome),” said India caucus co-chair Senator Mark Wanner after a hearing.
Think-tanks too are abuzz with expectations, fuelled by positive, though non-committal, official assertions. They hope to see an early works agreement or an announcement of it.
But there is pressure too to make India yield on reforms.
Fourteen US governors, almost a third of the total, wrote a letter to Obama on Wednesday saying India’s trade policies discriminate against foreign companies.
And that “hinders businesses’ ability to compete fairly and ultimately threatens US exports and jobs”. The signatories were mostly from states with few trade links with India.
A group of 18 trade bodies followed up with a letter of their own Thursday morning, just hours before Singh was to land at a military base outside Washington DC.
The letter gripes about “India’s consistent failure to protect IP rights”, “arbitrary tax policy” and “forced local production” and “compulsory licenses and patent revocations”.
The group wants to ensure India “returns to reforms and adopts policies that level the playing field with the US,” said its co-chair Linda Dempsey.
Together called the Alliance for Free Trade with India (ATFI), it has been aggressively pushing its case with the administration and Congress through joint letters and lobbying.