NAM urges US to review business ties with India

Advocacy group accuses India of unfair trade practices.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has started doubling up its efforts to persuade the US government to decrease, if not altogether eliminate, business ties with India.

NAM has begun a campaign entitled “Manufacturers and Congress Agree: India must play fair on trade,” which urges the US to curtail business with India because of what it sees as discriminatory business practices by India against US companies. Because the Indian government reserves a certain percentage of its markets for domestic companies – markets such as IT and energy – NAM believes that India is unfairly keeping jobs away from American companies that deserve them just as much.

“Reversing discrimination and restoring trust would be a win-win, enabling American exporters to further invest in India’s future and help India grow its economy and create opportunities for its people,” said NAM in a statement about its latest advocacy effort.

The organization, a Washington, DC-based advocacy group that represents roughly 11,000 domestic manufacturing companies of all sizes, has voiced concerns about India-US business practices in the past. In June of this year, NAM released a press statement which also implored law and policymakers to take action against India’s practices towards US companies.

“India’s recent discriminatory and unfair actions are harming American jobs and have put at risk the $60 billion trade relationship we have with our fourth largest trading partner,” NAM CEO and president Jay Timmons said in the statement, before calling on the Obama Administration to engage with the Indian government and end these practices.

The campaign has been launched in both print and digital formats, and has been ramped up at this time because of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit here later this week. NAM hopes that by increasing awareness of this issue, it will compel President Obama to discuss the issue with the Prime Minister so that the two can agree upon a potential solution sooner rather than later.

NAM also launched an initiative advocating support for comprehensive immigration reform, with radio ads being played in certain states across the US that urged listeners to speak to their Congressional leaders to support the “Gang of Eight” bill. The organization says on its website that “Reform is the pathway to the American dream.”

India has faced criticism from the US in recent months over the harsh taxes and laws it has begun levying on foreign companies trying to do business in India. During his trip to India last month, US Vice-President Joe Biden has also tried to get the Indian government to ease up on its scrutiny of US companies; saying that if India doesn’t, its economy may take a huge hit by having these companies flee for greener pastures. Some already have, with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) suspending clinical trials in India until the situation improves.

The NAM website published a collection of quotes from various high-ranking people and publications that list several grievances Americans have towards India and its business practices; that list can be found here.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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