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Public Statements

Letter to John Kerry, Secretary of U.S. Department of State - U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

In advance of the upcoming U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), former U.S. Trade Representative, and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led a bipartisan letter signed by 40 total Senators to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to take necessary steps to stop India's discriminatory trade and economic practices.

"The Administration must send a clear signal to India that it will not stand for unfair trade practices that threaten U.S. business, jobs, and innovation," said Portman. "American manufacturers are second to none, and we must ensure that they are on a level playing field with their global competitors."

"If India is to truly embrace its "Decade of Innovation,' India's policymakers must begin to recognize the value of intellectual property. The stakes are too high for India to ignore. India's deteriorating IP environment is bad for investment, bad for innovation, and bad for international trade," said Mark Elliot, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center, co-chair of the Alliance for Fair Trade with India.

"India's unfair and discriminatory trade practices are hurting manufacturers in the United States. It's important that this issue is raised at the highest levels to ensure India abides by global trade rules to protect America's competitiveness. Manufacturers look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to ensure a level playing field," said National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons, an Ohio native. The NAM is co-chair of the Alliance for Fair Trade with India.

In the letter, the Senators express their concerns that India's discriminatory actions are giving its domestic corporations an unfair advantage over manufacturers and workers in the United States and elsewhere. The Senators state, "…we are very concerned that India's recent actions to force the local production of certain information technology and clean energy equipment and to deny, break or revoke patents for nearly a dozen lifesaving medications risk undermining our broader partnership. This is particularly troubling against the backdrop of a generally deteriorating environment for intellectual property protection in India."

The Senators urge the State Department "to press for swift action and make clear to your Indian counterparts that the United States will consider all trade tools at its disposal if India does not end its discriminatory practices," adding, "A level playing field for American businesses, farmers and workers in India and other overseas markets is an essential U.S. diplomatic objective."

Portman and Menendez were joined by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Jeff Chiesa (R-NJ), Dan Coats (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Corker (R-TN), William "Mo" Cowan (D-MA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Mark Udall (D-CO), and David Vitter (R-LA).

The full text of the letter is below. Read a signed copy here.

June 20, 2013

Dear Secretary Kerry,

As the world's largest democracy, India is a crucial ally for the United States and an important export market for American-made goods and services. Given the importance of our bilateral relationship and the upcoming U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, we want to raise an important trade issue involving India's discriminatory trade and economic practices.

A strong bilateral trade and economic relationship is essential to achieving the strategic aims of our two nations in South Asia and beyond. Given that mutual goal, we are very concerned that India's recent actions to force the local production of certain information technology and clean energy equipment and to deny, break or revoke patents for nearly a dozen lifesaving medications risk undermining our broader partnership. This is particularly troubling against the backdrop of a generally deteriorating environment for intellectual property protection in India.

India's discriminatory actions give its domestic corporations an unfair advantage over manufacturers and workers in the United States and elsewhere. These actions are inconsistent with international norms and appear to violate India's obligations in the World Trade Organization. Furthermore, they threaten to undermine India's ability to attract further foreign investment, grow its manufacturing sector and promote innovation and sustainable development.

We urge you to press for swift action and make clear to your Indian counterparts that the United States will consider all trade tools at its disposal if India does not end its discriminatory practices. Time is of the essence. Already, several other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are reportedly contemplating actions similar to those India has already taken that would further harm jobs and growth in our states and across the country.

A level playing field for American businesses, farmers and workers in India and other overseas markets is an essential U.S. diplomatic objective. We appreciate your leadership and the work of the Department of State to that end and look forward to the results of your meetings in India.


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