Chidambram tells US India respects IPRs

Washington, July 12 (IANS) Seeking to allay US concerns about business climate in India, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has told American lawmakers that India respects intellectual property rights (IPRs) and its laws are compliant with World Trade Organisation rules.

Chidambaram, who is here on a four-day visit to woo American investors in the midst of a slowdown, told the lawmakers that "the Indian law affirms intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the process of granting compulsory licence and patent registration are WTO compliant and subject to judicial review".

He also stressed the "importance of India becoming a manufacturing hub for meeting its own domestic needs and for rebalancing the global economy", according to an Indian embassy statement.

In a meeting with members of US House of Representatives Thursday, he also expressed India's "discomfort" with the comprehensive immigration bill now moving through US Congress as it would make it harder and more expensive for Indian techies to get H1B visas to work in the US.

This was especially so "because the issue of temporary relocation of knowledge workers, which is not 'immigration' by any definition, has been linked to the larger issue of immigration".

In Chidambaram's view, "the restrictions sought to be placed on knowledge workers amount to non-tariff barriers", the embassy statement said.

Those present during the hour-long meeting were Democrat Co-Chair of House India Caucus Joe Crowley and House members Sandy Levin, Erik Paulsen, John Larson and the lone India-American member of the House Ami Bera.

India's Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram and the Indian ambassador to US Nirupama Rao also attended.

"There was a wide ranging discussion that covered the gamut of Indo-US relations. More specifically, issues such as compulsory licensing, patent protection, preferential market access, immigration bill in the US Congress and increase in FDI in areas such as defence and financial services were discussed," the embassy said.

Chidambaram, it said, reiterated that there is close cooperation between the two countries in areas such as security, defence etc. and the civil nuclear agreement between the two countries was path-breaking landmark.

US lawmakers, according to the statement "spoke of their deep interest in promoting India-US relations and advancing mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries".

"They appreciated the opportunity to exchange views with the finance minister and stressed the value of continuing such dialogues and engagement to accelerate the deepening of the India-US strategic partnership", it said.

Chidambaram also had "useful discussions" with Co-Chairs of the Senate India Caucus Mark Warner and John Cornyn of Texas, the statement said, but gave no details.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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