Anand Sharma accuses US of trade protectionism

04 March 2014

Anand SharmaCommerce and industry minister Anand Sharma has accused the United States of trade protectionism and bringing about visa restrictions on Indian nationals.

Speaking to reports on the sidelines of a function in Mumbai, Sharma also said that India's patent law was compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organisation and that it would not agree to additional rules to protect intellectual property rights of US companies.

The United States, he said, is engaging in over protectionism by bringing in alleged quality issues to safeguard the interests of MNC drug firms.

Sharma's criticism of US policies coincided with the visit of a top US official to patch up difference that started with the arrest of Indian deputy counsel in New York over alleged fraud.

The lingering tensions and the subsequent inspection and downgrading of Indian pharma facilities by the US FDA has increased trade friction between the two countries.

"There are issues which India has raised where we feel there is very high and unacceptable protectionism," he told reporters in New Delhi. He also said Washington made it too hard for Indian nationals to obtain US visas.

The US is pressing India on trade issues ranging from the quality of Indian drug exports to software piracy and local sourcing.

The Office of the US trade representative has taken the issues of subsidies and local content rules meant to promote solar power generation In India to the WTO, while the US itself is practising local sourcing in the case of steel and manpower.

Commerce ministry officials say India's rules on local sourcing were fully compatible with the WTO, and they argue that 16 US states have similar local sourcing provisions (See: India's IPR laws WTO-compliant, can't be challenged by US: official).

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