Saturday, June 26, 2010

India asks US to remove ISRO, DRDO from banned list

India has "very firmly" asked the US to ease export controls and remove top Indian agencies like the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from the banned list.

"We have taken up export controls very firmly" commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma. told reporters on Wednesday at the end of a three day visit asserting there was no justification for such controls "after elevating our relationship to a strategic partnership" and the signing of the India-US civil nuclear deal.

Noting that DAE, ISRO and other institutions involved in high end research were actively involved in partnership or in coordination with US agencies, he said: "India cannot be bracketed with other countries."

"Our entities, particularly the government research organisations like ISRO and the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), must not remain on the list," Sharma said.

The US side had been "very receptive and reassuring", he said hoping that the issue would be sorted out soon.

Sharma said that in his separate meeting with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, he had also raised labour related non-tariff barriers, other market access issues and removal of India from the Special 301 watch list of countries engaged in practices impeding US exports.

He also raised issues relating to the Totalisation Agreement for avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes, H-1B visas for Indian skilled labour and Generalised System of Preferences.

"We are all working on various deliverables" for the forthcoming visit of US President Barack Obama to India, Sharma said.

To this end, he would be back in Washington in September for a meeting of the Trade Policy Forum for facilitating trade and investment flows between the two countries. He had also invited Kirk and US commerce secretary Gary Locke to Delhi to look at possible deliverables.

Asked about Kirk's call's to India to address "longstanding impediments" like investment caps, agricultural market access barriers, high tariffs and intellectual property rights, Sharma said he had conveyed that India was fully TRIPS compliant.

The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulation.

"We are also party to multilateral agreements within WTO and GATTS (General Agreement on Tariffs And Trade)," he said. But tariffs was "a two way process. There are certain tariff and non-tariff barriers, which we feel are important to be raised" and he had done so.

Stressing that India is committed to a strong and equitable IPR regime and has put in place legislation and enforcement mechanisms to this effect, Sharma said that the issue of balance cannot be wished away.

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