Aerospace and Defense

USIBC’s Aerospace and Defense Committee worked to promote continuity and maintain positive momentum in U.S.-India defense engagement during the political transition in Washington D.C. and release of new defense acquisition policies by the government of India.

USIBC was pleased to see key language supporting India’s designation as a “Major Defense Partner” (MDP) included in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and affirmation of this designation by both Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis. A major policy achievement came in the form of the Trump administration’s approval of the sale of a Missile Technology Control Regime Category I Unmanned Aerial System called the Sea Guardian to India. This was a major policy change and one that helps lend meaning to India’s MDP designation. Vice President Pence announced this change when he addressed USIBC’s annual leadership summit in June 2017. USIBC was actively involved in encouraging this policy change through Department of Defense, State Department, and White House engagements with the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President.

USIBC also hosted senior Commerce Department officials to announce changes to the Export Administration Regulations and promoted utilization of India’s new privileges under the rule.  The new rule (82 FR 6218-6221) creates a presumption of approval for Indian companies seeking to import Commerce Department controlled military items (excepting Weapons of Mass Destruction related goods) and amends the Validated End User (VEU) authorization for India by which Indian and U.S. companies operating in India can seek VEU status for both civil and military end uses, exempting those companies from obtaining individual validated licenses.

The committee also spent considerable time meeting and educating incoming Trump administration officials on the opportunities and challenges in U.S.-India defense relations. Of note, we met and provided written recommendations to Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics concerning the future of the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. Of course, the committee spent the majority of our efforts engaging government of India officials at the highest levels. We met with the Minister of Defense and communicated with that office in multiple written correspondences. This included extensive commentary on India’s new Defense Acquisition Procedures and the opportunities it creates for more defense trade collaboration.


California Activities

USIBC’s programs in the west coast illustrated a continued focus by the government of India on the numerous hubs of innovation and technology in the United States. Notable visits from the government of India included the visit of Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) and Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) RS Sharma. There were robust state engagement programs with delegations from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Assam.

The Council launched a new initiative, the U.S.-India Start up Dialogue series to track the pace of innovation in both India and the U.S. In addition to the west coast Summit in spring that focused on themes of cyber security, digital payments, IoT, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship, the council also launched a trilateral business forum highlighting the possibilities of innovation and investment between India, Israel and the United States.  The first U.S.-Israel-India business forum on the west coast included themes of water security, infrastructure, energy, cyber security, venture capital and crowd funding, community building, smart transportation, and food retail.

In 2018, the council looks forward to creating more such opportunities for its members and continuing initiatives that drive innovation and job creation in both India and the United States.  

Digital Economy

Prime Minister Modi’s prioritization of the Digital India program, which overlaps with other high profile initiatives like the Make in India, Smart Cities, and Start-up India initiatives serves as a framework for USIBC’s Digital Economy Committee.

During the year, the government of India also elevated its digital policy-making via the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and the Department of Telecommunications (DOT), issuing dozens of consultations, white papers and draft regulations. USIBC responded to this with nearly 40 separately letters, submissions and digital advocacy, in the following policy areas: 1) conformity testing regimes regulating mandatory in-country testing and certification for telecommunications network security, telecommunications equipment interfaces, consumer safety, and e-waste management; 2) preferential market access (PMA) via discriminatory tariffs and government procurement policy for telecom and computer products, cybersecurity services, and used R&D equipment; 3) digital sovereignty concerns around data flows, retention, access, net neutrality and privacy; and 4) digital policies covering emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine (M2M) services, cloud computing, over-the-top services, among others.

The committee hosted numerous government of India leaders from MeitY, DOT, and TRAI. The committee hosted several senior U.S. government officials including the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce; Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Policy (CIP) Robert Strayer; and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mark Linscott, along with members of congress participating in CODELS to India.

Key policy wins during the year include changes to patent policy covering computer-related invention (CRI), and postponing implementation of network security testing rules. In 2018, the digital economy Committee intents to push forward its agenda through the U.S.-India ICT Working Group (ICTWG), and Cyber Dialogue, as well as the formation of a Privacy Working Group to manage cross-sector privacy issues.

Energy, Environment and Infrastructure

At the beginning of the year, USIBC hosted the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan along with senior officers from the leading national oil companies for an the interactive roundtable in Houston, TX. The delegation of senior government officials and leaders of Indian oil & gas companies discussed upcoming opportunities for collaboration and the launch of the Ministry’s its new upstream oil and gas policy, the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP). USIBC also hosted one of the first officials in the Trump administration to visit India, Beth Urbanas, deputy assistant secretary for Asia and the Americas at the Office of International Affairs in the US Department of Energy (DOE) for a roundtable discussion of the U.S.-India Energy Cooperation and key priorities.

In September, USIBC’s Energy Executive Committee hosted Anand Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy and Kuljit Singh Popli, Chairman & Managing Director, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency for an industry roundtable. Secretary Kumar was leading a delegation for the latest iteration of the U.S.-India Clean Energy Task Force.

This dialogue comes on the heels of the U.S. and India signing a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on promoting sustainable economic growth and exchange information and experience in regional integration and connectivity, particularly in the areas of energy, trade and investment.

The Secretary began the meeting by reviewing with U.S. industry a progress report (achieved 58 gigawatts so far) in where India stands in achieving its goal of increasing clean-energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022. Furthermore, he conveyed several noteworthy points including his government’s need of partnering with U.S. industry and the U.S. government to fulfill its $100 billion investment goal by 2022, increase research and development, build transmission lines offshore and manufacture solar cells and wind turbine components in India.

The discussion with the Secretary also led to the following issues being identified as impediments to increased investment by U.S. industry:

  • Honoring of executed contracts with private parties, and enhancing the enforceability of contracts undertaken
  • Improving communication and collaboration between center and state on Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

USIBC welcomed a delegation from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) Daniel Simmons, from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. PDAS Simmons laid out the opportunities for strengthening America's position as a global energy player, and the priorities for the DOE delegation's upcoming trip to India in February that will be led by Energy Secretary Rick Perry. USIBC members provided an overview of India's energy market and the transitions that are required to achieve India's ambitious clean energy targets

Financial Services

The Financial Services Executive Committee focused on digital payments and infrastructure financing this past year.  In March 2017, the Council hosted its first Digital Payments Symposium to establish collaboration between Government of India and key stakeholders on the deepening the digital payments framework in India.  The symposium was held on the heels of demonetization and was particularly timely in creating a dialogue around issues related to new products and services, financial inclusion, and consumer protection.

USIBC and PwC published a report on potential recommendations to make progress on these issues.  Committee members also submitted comment letters in response to proposed regulations, and has held follow-on discussions.  The Committee also held its Working Group on Infrastructure Financing in May 2017 in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF).  Members and Government of India officials came together to identify the key barriers to increased investment in infrastructure projects, and the path to resolving these issues. 

USIBC also hosted the Honorable Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in September 2017 in New York where he spoke of key reforms including GST and demonetization and their impact on the economy and the markets. 

Insurance continues to remain a focus for the Committee as members established an Insurance Subcommittee and seek every opportunity to communicate concerns about insurance regulations to policymakers. In particular, advocacy efforts focused on liberalizing the investment limits for insurance distributors. The committee members also hosted GIFT City CEO, Ajay Pandey, in Chicago and New York to discuss the regulatory benefits of investing in the Special Economic Zone.  These events were a part of the committee’s “Investing in India” series intended to highlight the investment opportunities for businesses seeking to enter into India.  On the tax front, the Committee established the tax advocacy group as a cross-sectoral initiative to address tax issues.  This group will lead the USIBC’s submission on the 2018-2019 Budget.

Food and Agriculture

USIBC's food & agriculture committee advanced several issues that impact the agriculture sector. Following the transition to a new U.S. Administration, USIBC advocated for a more sustained government-to-government conversation on agriculture issues.

For the first time, the joint statement following PM Modi’s meeting with President Trump in June referenced cooperation in global agricultural trade. The U.S.-India trade policy forum in October also focused on agriculture issues and USIBC hosted members of both the Indian and U.S. delegations immediately following that dialogue.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) appointed a new Under Secretary for Agricultural Trade; he made one of his first overseas trips to New Delhi and USIBC and the Chamber of Commerce hosted him for a readout following his trip. USIBC met with the Minister of Food Processing Industry (MOFPI) to discuss member interest in expanding food retail prospects by U.S. companies, and supported a visit by a delegation from MOFPI to the United States.

USIBC’s Food & Agriculture Committee also hosted an event on the margins of World Food India in November, to bring together stakeholders who are working to identify additional business opportunities in the food processing and food sector. USIBC hosted a deep dive on non-communicable diseases in India bringing together industry, academia and non-governmental actors to discuss trend lines and how the private sector can positively influence the landscape. In 2018, the Committee will continue to engage both governments to remove barriers to agricultural trade, and leverage USIBC’s newly formed states initiative to identify new areas for cooperation in key agricultural states.

Legal Services

This year, the committee focused on leveraging knowledge partnership from our legal services members for driving content at cross sectoral programs to focus on improvements in India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. The committee deep-dived into developments in fintech, taxation, corporate social responsibility, privacy, special economic zones (SEZs), and defense manufacturing among others. Laying ground work for 2018, the committee also engaged on submitting recommendations and best practice examples from other markets to India’s Ministries of Law and Commerce in reaction to the August 2017 opening of India’s SEZs to foreign law firms. The opening of SEZs like GIFT City in Gujarat, was announced as the first step of a proposed phased roll out to legal market liberalization in India. 

The Committee looks forward to a robust 2018 with marquee events already set to take place in Q1 and Q2 including USIBC’s Annual Legal Services Conference in India.

Life Sciences

During 2017, USIBC’s Life Sciences Committee continued to track Government of India (GOI) movement on the National IPR policy and maintained focus on strategic advocacy around the price-capping issue as the extreme price controls on stents extended to knees and now pose a threat to other medical devices. 

As part of the advocacy around price controls, the committee sent a letter to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority detailing industry concerns and explaining why stents must be categorized. This letter included language on the development of a formula, for setting a maximum price. The committee also sent a letter to Foreign Secretary Jaishankar, highlighting the negative ramifications of the government of India’s drastic measures. Additionally, USIBC advocated on the medical device issue to USTR Lighthizer and Minister Suresh Prabhu, ahead of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. 

Member companies provided input for USBIC’s Special 301 submission to the United States Trade Representative. The committee tracked new developments on the IP front as CDSCO declared a fresh policy stating that new drug applications would not have to include existing patents. USIBC submitted comments to the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DOP) on its National Pharma Policy Guidelines. This letter appreciated the document’s positive aspects (such as focus on quality, robust IP rights, a level playing field and skilling), while expressing concerns about excessive monitoring and regulatory hurdles. 

The Life Sciences Committee hosted its second annual conference titled “Innovation Driven Expansion of Healthcare Access in India” on March 14 in New Delhi. The conference aimed to share information and provide a global perspective on achieving solutions to the critical unmet needs in India’s healthcare sector. This covered the importance of robust IPR systems, the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to reduce healthcare cost and expand access, strong immunization programs with effective collaboration and incentivizing innovation in healthcare. The conference had participation from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Ministry of External Affairs and Invest India, along with other key stakeholders from government. As a follow up to this event, the committee sent a letter to NITI Aayog CEO, Shri Amitabh Kant, highlighting recommendations that emerged from the conference.


The USIBC manufacturing committee continued its work to identify opportunities for private sector collaboration with Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative. Using a comprehensive set of policy recommendations, the Committee engaged several ministries in the Government of India whose missions touch on the manufacturing sector. USIBC also advocated to the Government of India on behalf of manufacturing committee members to prevent emerging restrictions on chemical imports.