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USA Inc. launches offensive ahead of Manmohan visit

Washington, Sep 26 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here Thursday for his third summit with US President Barack Obama with lawmakers and the administration alike focusing on corporate America’s concerns over doing business with India.

“India’s discriminatory trade policies put American businesses at a disadvantage, place manufacturing jobs at risk, and jeopardise India’s ability to grow its economy,” said a letter dashed off to Obama by 18 business organisations under the umbrella of Alliance for Free Trade with India (AFTI).

The letter highlights what it called “India’s harmful trade policies which include a failure to protect IP rights, forced local production of certain information technology and clean energy equipment, and revocations of patents and compulsory licences for innovative medicines.”

“These unfair policies are designed to benefit a few Indian corporations at the expense of manufacturing and jobs in the United States and other countries around the world,” said Linda Dempsey, AFTI co-chair and vice-president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The business community, elected officials, and the administration are united in their concern with these protectionist policies,” the letter said urging Obama to seek “immediate and concrete solutions that can lead to growth in the American and Indian economies alike”.

“In the last 18 months, India has consistently failed to recognise international intellectual property rights, hindering India’s path to an innovative and knowledge-based economy,” said Mark Elliot, co-chair of AFTI and executive vice-president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Centre.

“During his meeting with Prime Minister Singh, President Obama has the opportunity to promote a trade environment that fosters innovation and creativity, creates high-quality jobs, and advances global economic development.”

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of governors highlighted the impact India’s unfair trade practices have on jobs in states across the US in a letter to Obama, the group said.

Additionally, more than 170 US Representatives and 40 US Senators had expressed concern with a trade environment in India that puts American jobs and industries at risk in letters to the administration earlier this year, it said.

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