India today “strongly” urged the US to engage in negotiations for the Totalisation Agreement or Social Security pact as its absence is restricting the movement of domestic IT professionals in America.
The issue of Totalisation Agreement was again taken up during a delegation-level meeting here between the two nations. US Trade Representative Michael Froman is leading the delegation for the 10th India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting.
“We very clearly identified this as one of the non-tariff measures…which is restricting the movement of IT professionals.
“We have strongly urged the US to engage in negotiations for signing of a Totalisation Agreement. It is being heard and I hope there will be a positive response from their side,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters after the delegation-level meeting.
India wants early conclusion of the social security agreement with the US.
The US has entered into Totalisation Agreement with several nations for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes.
Under this agreement, professionals of both the countries would be exempted from social security taxes when they go to work for a short period in the other country.
On the issues related to intellectual property rights, Sitharaman said a lot of effort was put in to dispel the misconceptions of the US delegation on India’s patent regime.
There seems a much better appreciation of India’s IPR regime by the US side, she added.
On compulsory licensing (CL), she said India reminded the US delegation that so far it has issued only one CL and that too after following a due process.
Under the CL, a government authorises a company other than the patent owner to produce the patented product or process, without the patent owner’s consent.
This is largely resorted to in the case of public health emergency to make an expensive patented drugs available. India issued CL in 2014 to NATCO for a cancer drug. US pharma companies have raised concerns over this.
The Indian side also raised concerns over visa fee issue.
“They heard us on this and I hope they will come to us on this,” she said.
Further the minister also flagged matters related to greater market access for agri goods like grapes and mangoes and pharma products.
“We find that in the US administration new laws are brought up and new rules are made and they have different impact on our trading, particularly I am referring to in the case of food and drugs,” she said.
She said the Generic Drug User Fee Act (GDUFA) and Food Safety Modernisation Act of 2011 have started creating an elaborate system of inspection as well as inspection fees.