Describing it as the "foundational issue" for the future of Indo-US trade relationship, US-Indian Business Council acting president Diane Farrell, at a meeting of Indian and American businesses in Tampa, yesterday said once a new government is in place in India, the US industry will look forward to a rekindling of bilateral dialogues.
"Once a new government is in place in India, we look forward to a rekindling of bilateral dialogues, including the Trade Policy Forum, the US-India Strategic Dialogue, and the CEO Forum," she said as she laid out her agenda for the new Indian government, which includes, tax, intellectual property, defense, immigration reform, and legacy issues.
"Retroactive and unpredictable taxation has become a global headline concern. Companies cannot and will not invest in a country that is lacking a clear and predictable tax policy. Some progress has been made, but more work needs to be done in order to resolve the perception of gridlock," she said.
"While on the subject of tax, USIBC member companies look forward to the adoption of a new Goods and Services Tax (GST)a unifying, predictable approach that will dramatically increase government revenue and ease the movement of goods across India," she added.
"Like tax, another foundational issue that must be clarified is intellectual property. We must work together to clear the fog that surrounds the issue. Recent actions in India have caused very serious concerns across US Industry as it relates to IP. Companies need assurances that their hard fought and earned intellectual capital will be protected," she said.
USIBC encourages a dialogue between industry and the two governments to address how a constructive approach can protect IPR while addressing some of the concerns of the Indian government regarding access, she said.
"We look forward to supporting an increased defense trade relationship. Just over ten years ago our defense trade was next to nothing. Now it is nearly USD 12 billion," she said.
"This is not a one way street, either. In addition to joint military exercises, we are engaged in true cooperative defense production through the recent Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, which will enable our two industries to jointly produce defense equipment for use by both militaries," Farrell said.
She said that USIBC, which has formed the 'Coalition for Jobs & Growth' committed to America's growing needs for high-skilled talent in IT, hopes to see progress on longstanding legacy issues, including quick passage of the insurance bill to raise the 26 per cent FDI limit to 49 per cent that will help fund India's massive infrastructure build-out.
"We also look forward to resolution of issues surrounding the fulfillment of FDI in multi-brand retail. It is important to note that our energy partnership in particular has expanded dramatically in recent years," she said.
"Ironing out key hurdles on both sides, including the implementation of the Civil Nuclear Agreement and the approval of additional projects seeking to export liquefied natural gas to India, will allow this partnership to continue to thrive," Farrell said.
Looking farther ahead, she said USIBC strongly believes it is important to look beyond transactional discussions regarding trade to generate momentum toward a bilateral investment treaty (BIT).
"Such a treaty could help facilitate two-way investment in infrastructure and other areas where capital outlay is welcome and would provide protections to Indian and American companies as they expand investments overseas," she argued.