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