4 March 2009
Despite Nuclear deal, US sees hurdles in trade with India
Washington (IANS): While the India-US civil nuclear deal has opened "the door even wider" for US exports, Washington says India’s tariff and tax regime, intellectual property rights policies, investment climate and regulatory hurdles still pose a problem.
With US and India engaged in an active dialogue on trade policy in 2008, their bilateral trade agenda continued to expand to support the significant opportunities for bilateral trade and investment that US and Indian companies are pursuing, a new US report says.
"The Civil Nuclear Agreement signed on October 10, 2008, opens the door even wider for US exports to help India meet its tremendous energy needs," said the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2009 Trade Policy Agenda and 2008 Annual Report.
"That said, many challenges to trade and investment in India persist, and USTR continued to work with the Indian government to address such concerns as India’s tariff and tax regime, intellectual property rights policies, investment climate and regulatory hurdles," it said.
"India continues to limit market access in various sectors through non-tariff barriers such as high border taxes and tariffs, foreign direct investment caps, non-transparent procedures, and discriminatory treatment of imports," the report suggested.
Despite these barriers, trade expanded rapidly. In 2008, bilateral goods trade totalled $45 billion. Bilateral services trade totalled $19 billion in 2007, it noted.
Noteworthy developments in 2008 included the agreement to launch negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty and India’s withdrawal of certain import restrictions on fresh fruit.
Another development in the 2008 bilateral US-India trade dialogue was the Private Sector Advisory Group’s (PSAG) identification of key policy issues on which it would provide strategic recommendations and insights to the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF).
The PSAG identified completion of a bilateral investment treaty as its top recommendation.
The report said there has been some progress in India’s protection of intellectual property rights. These included the introduction of the proposed Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill 2008 that will increase penalties for spurious and adulterated pharmaceuticals, and create a customs recordation system.
However, India still needs to improve its copyright regime to address issues related to protection of digital works on the Internet, strengthen its patent regime, USTR said.
This should include clarifying the scope of patentable subject matter, provide effective data protection for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals, and increase enforcement against piracy and counterfeiting.