(Recasts lead, adds comments from lawmakers in paragraphs 2-3)
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, June 18 A bipartisan group of more
than 170 U.S. lawmakers joined with a coalition of U.S. business
groups on Tuesday to demand increased U.S. pressure on India to
change policies that they said threaten American exports, jobs
"Over the last year, Indian policymakers and courts have
taken a series of actions designed to block imports by forcing
local production of a wide range of manufactured goods," the
lawmakers from the House of Representatives said in a letter to
President Barack Obama.
The Indian government's use of "compulsory licenses" and
other actions to revoke patents held by U.S. drug manufacturers
is of great concern "because innovation and the protection of
intellectual property are significant driving engines of the
U.S. economy," the lawmakers said.
Next week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to
India for the fourth annual U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue.
On Tuesday, 14 U.S. business groups launched a coalition to
press the Obama administration to address a growing list of
Indian trade irritants.
"Today we are calling on the Obama administration to raise
concerns immediately at the highest levels of the Indian
government and to press for real results," Linda Dempsey, vice
president for international economic affairs at the National
Association of Manufacturers, told reporters.
"If India does not act swiftly to comply with its
international obligations, we believe that all trade and
diplomatic options must be on the table," Dempsey said in a
conference call to announce the groups' coalition, the Alliance
for Fair Trade with India.
The congressional letter was the latest in a series of
actions that shows India vies with China as the top focus of
congressional trade concerns. Last week, the top Democrat and
Republican on the Senate Finance Committee also urged that Kerry
raise trade concerns on his visit.
The business groups - which also include the Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America, Motion Picture
Association of America, Biotechnology Industry Association,
National Foreign Trade Council and Solar Energy Industries
Association - complained India was trying to boost its domestic
manufacturers at the expense of foreign suppliers.
It has done that through a variety of means, including local
content requirements, court decisions that invalidate valuable
drug patents held by U.S. companies and failure to stop piracy
of U.S. music, movies and software, the groups said.
"This trend is bad for India, it's bad for investment and
it's bad for international trade," said Mark Elliot, executive
vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global
Intellectual Property Center.
"India is the international outlier" when it comes to
protection of intellectual property, he said.
Dempsey and Elliot acknowledged it was unusual for their
groups to form a coalition directed at one particular country.
As difficult as U.S.-China trade relations have been, the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of
Manufacturers never forged an alliance dedicated to addressing
those trade concerns.
But "over the last year, 18 months, we've just seen action
after action that really is about discriminating against foreign
exports, inputs and sales into the Indian market," Dempsey said.
The United States has already filed one case against India
at the World Trade Organization against solar energy policies
that it says unfairly discriminate against foreign firms.
Some U.S. lawmakers have suggested removing India from the
U.S. Generalized System of Preferences program to express U.S.
concern. That program waives duties on billions of dollars of
India's exports to the United States.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Stacey Joyce)