Anand Sharma slams US for protectionism

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 5 2014, 10:40am hrs
Ahead of high-level US diplomat Nisha Desai Biswal's visit, New Delhi on Tuesday criticised Washington for its high trade protectionism and the issues it has raised on India's intellectual property rights (IPR).

Brushing aside US allegations on India violating the IPR laws, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said: There are issues which India has raised where we feel there is very high and unacceptable protectionism. There are issues related to obtaining visas, enhancing of the visa fee and the movement of temporary workers. US is a major economic and strategic partner and they have raised issues at my end.

Though India had said it will not get into a dialogue with Washington on the issue of US officials planning to visit India to investigate the country's laws related to IPR and take up the matter with the dispute settlement arm of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Sharma, for the first time, made a formal statement on the issue.

He asserted that India is signatory to Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the laws are fully compliant with the agreement of the WTO.

India has never deviated or diluted it. India has protected its commitment to the TRIPS agreement. But what is being asked of India is TRIPS plus, which we have made clear, we will never accept. India will adhere in letter and spirit to the multi-lateral agreement negotiated and signed, Sharma added.

India is unhappy with the decision by the office of the United States Trade Representative to drag it before the WTO over the subsidies and local content rules it has set to promote solar power generation.

However, Sharma clarified that Biswal was an official of the US and would meet official level people during here visit here. The trip, originally planned for December, was called off at the height of the row over the arrest of Indian envoy Devyani Khobragade. In fact, US energy secretary Ernest Moniz is also due to travel to India next week. His visit was also postponed because of the diplomatic row.

Earlier, the government had instructed its officials not to entertain any request from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) - a quasi-judicial federal agency to examine its trade practices.