Washington, D.C. - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman met today with Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma. The two-hour meeting – the first for the ministers since Ambassador Froman was sworn in as U.S. Trade Representative last month – covered a full range of trade and investment challenges and opportunities of interest to the United States and India, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
In raising issues of interest to the United States, Ambassador Froman welcomed the announcement that India’s Preferential Market Access policy is to be reviewed and modified, including the commitment that the revised policy would not have domestic manufacturing requirements, percentage based or otherwise, with respect to private sector procurement of electronics products. Ambassador Froman noted, however, the continued concern of the United States and other trading partners regarding the growing number of other localization barriers – for example, in-country testing requirements for information and communications technology equipment, and preferential treatment for indigenous intellectual property – that seek to favor India’s domestic manufacturers, suppliers and innovators at the expense of foreign firms and workers. He highlighted the opportunity to jointly explore less distortive approaches in manufacturing policy discussions under the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum.
Ambassador Froman further expressed the United States’ concern regarding the recent developments in India’s climate for innovation and protection of intellectual property-intensive goods and services. He emphasized that it is possible to promote access to medicines in India without stifling innovations that can further public health objectives as well, and said the United States would welcome and support such policies. The Ministers discussed the importance of a positive innovation climate for all sectors, including green technology, pharmaceuticals, and information technology, and agreed to continue these discussions under the framework of the Trade Policy Forum.
Further, Ambassador Froman underscored the importance of India’s constructive engagement to a successful outcome at the World Trade Organization ministerial in Bali, Indonesia, this December.
Finally, the two ministers agreed on the importance of a strong, regularized and sustained dialogue on trade and investment issues between the two governments. To this end, they directed their staffs to work together to lay the foundation for a successful ministerial-level Trade Policy Forum. Ambassador Froman assured Minister Sharma that the Office of the United States Trade Representative stands ready to engage immediately with our Indian counterparts on concrete steps to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral engagement.