Indians may flock to it, but the US doesn’t appreciate those fake Nike shoes at Gaffar Market

Six markets in metropolises irk the USITC.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The US International Trade Commission (USITC) is officially underway with its investigation into Indian industry, launched at the behest of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means, and among the first revelations to come out of the Commission’s investigation is that six of India’s biggest marketplaces have been listed as “notorious” for Intellectual Property (IP) rights violations.

Delhi’s Nehru Place and Gaffar Market, Mumbai’s Manish Markey and Lamington Road, and Hyderabad’s Chenoy Trade Center and Hong Kong Bazaar were cited as festering grounds for pirates of all kinds to sell goods that damage the efficacy of international IP laws. Everything from music to movies to software can be bought on the cheap, and either through ignorance or just not caring, patrons of these markets are endorsing the pirate industry each and every day, says a report by the USITC.

“The markets we have identified unfairly take from these American workers, diminishing the value and sale-ability of their work and threatening their jobs,” said US Trade Representative Michael Froman, whose offices released the report naming the six markets.

Froman is also the one who announced on Monday that the US would be taking India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) because of alleged discriminatory practices regarding India’s solar power program.

“The marketplaces identified here warrant the immediate attention of our trading partners,” Froman added, saying that “some of the counterfeit goods sold in the identified physical markets, from medicines and personal care products to automotive parts, can even threaten the health and safety of consumers.”

The ongoing USITC hearings will go on until April 11, and will investigate whether or not India is engaging in practices that are harmful to international business. India has been criticized heavily over the past several months for practices that outside countries, particularly the US, say favor Indian manufacturers while shunning better qualified companies based elsewhere.

Additionally, Indian factories and industries have been getting slammed by US agencies in the lead-up to the USITC hearings, which sources within the Indian government have told The American Bazaar are likely part of “a concerted effort” to undermine India in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The “fact-finding” investigation will go on for the next several days, and will look into alleged patent malfeasance specifically. A final report will be given to the US Congress at the end of November, at which point the US will decide whether or not further action against India should be taken. For its part, India is treating the USITC affair as if it’s business as usual.

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