WASHINGTON: A new government in India provides an ideal opportunity to turn areas of contention into areas of collaboration, according to a top U.S. trade official, who underlined that America has made its intentions clear that it does not favor a confrontist approach. "The remarkable history of this bilateral relationship in just the last 20 years tells us that this is not only possible, but essential if the world's two largest democracies are to demonstrate successfully the defining partnership that President (Barack) Obama identified as a key feature of this century," said U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman.
"In light of the election in India currently underway, we have decided to look to an Out-of-Cycle Review focused on India this Fall to evaluate our ongoing engagement on issues of concern with respect to India's environment for intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement," he wrote. Acknowledging the pressure from the industry and others, even as the US Government shared the same concerns on deteriorating environment for IP protection and enforcement in India, Froman explained that in determining how to proceed in this year's report, the USTR carefully considered the range of stakeholder views and how to most effectively make progress with respect to addressing these concerns.
"In announcing this year's determination with respect to India, we are redoubling our efforts to seek constructive engagement that will both improve IP protection and enforcement in India and support India's efforts to achieve a decade of innovation and advance its legitimate public policy goals, including access to affordable medicines," he said. Froman said the Special 301 Report highlights an opportunity for building on India-U.S. bilateral relationship in the critical area of intellectual property."We believe that an environment conducive to the protection and enforcement of IP can be part of solving pressing domestic policy challenges," he said. "We consider this to be the case whether we are speaking of attracting investment, promoting manufacturing, promoting green technology, or providing high-quality and affordable healthcare," he said, adding the report identifies opportunities for improved engagement on issues related to IP and access to medicines.
"We believe an enhanced discussion of a broad range of trade and innovation policies--as they relate to important domestic policy objectives--would be an ideal area for further bilateral collaboration," he noted. The Special 301 Report, he said, also identifies other key opportunities for strengthened bilateral cooperation. For example, the U.S. and India are home to some of the world's most vibrant creative industries--including in film, music and software--industries that face serious piracy challenges at home and abroad.
"Our governments may also be able to find ways to collaborate productively at the technical and senior official level. Challenges with respect to IPR enforcement have benefited from ongoing cooperation between IP authorities and judicial officers in both countries. This cooperation should be significantly enhanced," he said. Froman said the Out-of-Cycle Review echoes India's emphasis on strong government-to-government and government-to-private sector engagement, as the most effective means for resolving concerns in this area.
"Through the Out-of-Cycle Review, we will seek to ensure that both governments achieve the meaningful, sustained, and effective engagement required to strengthen this critical bilateral economic relationship," he said. Noting that the Special 301 Report allowed the U.S. to look back at India's recent policies and highlight areas where more joint work would be in their mutual interest, he said: "Now is the time for us to look forward to making that happen."