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New US trade chief wants Indian to relax rules for new trade deals news
22 June 2013

Michael FromanFormer deputy national security advisor Michael Froman, who has taken charge as the new US trade representative, is expected to push India to yield on its "concerns" over India's trade policies, including the use of compulsory licences to suspend patents on US drugs, barriers to heavily-subsidised US agricultural exports, restrictions on foreign investment and local content policies that discriminate against foreign goods and manufacturers.

Froman is expected to raise the issues with 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including India, with a tougher message from the US Congress and business groups of a tougher line on the country's trade policies.

"We have a number of concerns about the investment and innovation environment in India," Froman said in an interview after his swearing in as the new trade chief. "It's something that we're very focused on."

Meanwhile, some lawmakers have suggested removing India from Washington's concessional trade agreement, the Generalised System of Preferences, which helps developing countries export goods to the US. As things stand, most of Bangladesh's textile trade is also not getting GSP cover in the US.

Froman is also supportive of the concerns of certain senators that most trade deals lack transparency and that these do not ensure the best interests of US citizens.

"We'll take a look at a number of ideas and proposals that people have about how to improve transparency. But we also want to make sure that we can negotiate a deal that is in the best interests of American workers, farmers and ranchers," he said.

He also agreed with senator Elizabeth Warren that the public should be better informed of the issues that countries negotiate in trade agreements and that trade policies shold inevitably aim at US full employment.

Froman is expected to raise the issues at the US-India CEO summit in Washington scheduled for next month and at a likely future meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum.

Other top priorities are completing trade deals with 11 countries in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region and with the European Union, and ensuring that countries meet their trade obligations.

The US expects to conclude trade talks with Japan and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the year, and hold the first round of talks with the EU in the first week of July.

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New US trade chief wants Indian to relax rules for new trade deals