NEW DELHI: With Donald Trump set to take charge as the next US President, Indo American Chamber of Commerce today suggested that India and the US should exchange wish lists to fast track resolution of bilateral issues which are impeding accelerated investment flow.
Broad contours of the wish lists should include amicable settlement of IPR issues leading to earliest conclusion of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT), totalisation agreement, a sound legal framework to expeditiously settle disputes, settlement of issues emanating from non-tariff measures and importantly, a fast solution to nagging visa problems.
Billionaire businessman Trump is set to take over as the next President of the United States in January.
Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) National President N V Srinivasan said there is a growing realisation among the US corporations that India, lying mid-way between West and the East, has the potential to emerge as a gateway for serving both markets.
“Many corporations are seriously discussing these ideas in their boardroom meetings, while others are taking concrete steps towards investing in India with a renewed interest. We have to capitalise on the situation by removing impediments to the flow of investments and take concrete steps towards ease of doing business in India to leverage our position as an attractive investment destination,” Srinivasan said.
US President-elect Trump has made it clear that he is averse to regional trade agreements like NAFTA, emerging Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) etc which, according to him, have been militated against the US interests, IACC noted.
“He (Trump) is in the process of recalibrating the policies to deal pragmatically with each country by their level of importance and economic engagement.
“Against this backdrop, India’s recent policy initiatives like Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities project, high budget investments in infrastructure etc where critical technical and financial investments are needed, would stand to benefit,” Srinivasan said.
Flagging contentious issues that are coming up in the bilateral economic negotiations, such as retrospective tax regime in India, tardy intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and their enforcement, insistence on deciding economic disputes under Indian laws etc, the IACC President said these issues can be settled in a spirit of ‘give and take’.
“We are happy and privileged to have two administrations in the US and India, which are pro-business and believe in creating an environment for seamless business activities.
“Donald Trump’s significant business interests in India in various sectors and his statement of intent to forge a strong business relationship are pointers to an exciting bilateral business relationship,” Srinivasan said.
Another area that needs immediate attention is the earliest conclusion of the double taxation avoidance treaty on social security taxes, often referred to as Totalisation Agreement, to avoid double taxation of social security both in the home country and the country where an employee works.
Currently, temporary migrant Indian workers in the US have to make dual payment of social security contributions, both at home and in the US. India has around 3 lakh workers in the US at any given point of time, contributing over $2 billion every year towards social security taxes without getting any benefits.
To avail social security benefits in the US, one has to stay there for over 10 years, but work visas in that country are generally provided for a maximum of 6 years. Over the years, nearly $25 billion have been lost by India, IACC said.
Referring to the difficulties faced by Indians in getting US visas, the IACC chief said that one has to take a long term and philosophical stand on these issues and not one driven by short term gains.
“There has been a proliferation of Indian companies and start-ups in the US, mostly in the ICT sector. These are set up mostly by people who migrated to the US at various stages, particularly during the dotcom days. Their business enterprises are providing gainful employment to many US citizens,” Srinivasan said.
“Most of the IT and technology platforms in India, such as mobile telephony, credit/ debit card networks, climate tracking equipment, heavy duty computers, drones, sensors etc are working on equipment mostly imported from the US,” he added.