In his maiden visit to India as the US Trade Representative (USTR), Michael Froman said the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and food security pact should be approved together by the World Trade Organization (WTO), even as he stressed on improving of intellectual property standards in India.
Lauding the efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, Froman said both countries were “working side by side in Geneva” to build support among other WTO members “to build the package of agreements that we agreed to (in Bali)”, while addressing the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Froman is here for the India-US Trade Policy Forum, the top platform on bilateral trade and investment, taking place here on Tuesday.
“With the support of other WTO members, we (India and US) will now allow for the full TFA to be fully implemented… India and US are working side by side in Geneva, as we speak, to build support among other WTO members to build the package of agreements that we agreed to (in Bali, Indonesia),” said Froman. Asserting US support to India’s food security concerns, Froman said once the TFA was fully implemented it would “intensify efforts” to seek a permanent solution to the food stockpiling programme that India and other developing countries follow.
He also emphasised on the fact that the US would support India’s demand for a lasting ‘Peace Clause’ until a solution to the food stockholding issue, provided India met those conditions that enabling it to utilise the interim measure.
“As per the deal to allow TFA to be fully implemented, we agree to intensify efforts to find a permanent solution to the food stockpiling issue and eliminate any ambiguity in the Bali Package about the availability of the so-called Peace Clause in the meantime, provided that food stockpiling programmes meet the conditions set out in Bali,” Froman said.
On the meeting of the India-US high-level working group on intellectual property (IP), the USTR said, “It is in India’s interest to have and fully enforce a world-class IPR regime, patents, trade-marks, piracy,counterfeiting and compulsory licensing. These are challenging issues and dealing with them directly is critical. If India has to play a leadership role in the knowledge economy, including on its of becoming digital India and in that regard we have great interest in the ongoing review of the India's IPR policy.”
During the day, several meetings took place between US officials and the ministry of commerce and industry. According to officials involved, the US stressed India to take part in the ‘Out-Of-Cycle Reviews’ (OCR) undertaken by thr USSR and improve IP standards. Froman also stressed on improving the country’s business environment by resorting to simplification of taxation, eliminating bureaucratic delays and tariff reduction.
Hailing Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, Froman said, “We are cautiously optimistic.”
“We had a frank exchange of views. We will continue to work together and see how we can work towards a common goal...(several) issues were brought up and discussed and we would like to see each other’s perspective on those issues,” Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters after the meeting.
Deputy USTR Robert Holleyman said both sides discussed various issues. "We had an excellent engagement. It was a good opportunity to hold discussions... to prepare some advance work for TPF tomorrow (on Tuesday). It was a productive discussion and we agreed for a follow-up engagement," Holleyman said.