In 2006, two-way trade with India was a mere $25 billion. But today, just 8 years since setting the $25 billion mark, two-way trade with India stands at $100 billion. In a word, business has been “good”. It is no wonder President Obama reiterated on September 27 that “the partnership between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”
Could business be better?
Of course business could be better! We have both recovered from a disastrous global recession, and our approach should be—and USIBC subscribes to this approach—to address legitimate concerns of our industries via candid, thorough, respectful and straight-forward dialogue, and not through acrimonious filings or in the headlines of newspapers, or through punitive actions.
The US and India are friendly nations, the world’s largest free-market democracies. We share values of freedom and hope underpinned by familial ties. We have much at stake, both commercial and strategic. We must strive to keep these attributes foremost in mind. I would like to respond to the specifics which have been central to USIBC’s advocacy over the past two years.
USIBC has consistently called for more predictability on India’s tax front: India’s tax decision-making is opaque. That said, in response to investor concerns, the government of India has demonstrated a notable effort to engage more directly with industry on tax concerns. Just this past year, the finance minister travelled to the US three times to meet with business leaders at meetings convened by USIBC.
To further understand complaints from tech companies specifically, the finance minister convened a follow-up meeting in New Delhi to delve into technical tax cases relating to the IT sector, adjusting certain policies to the benefit of IT companies.
The Prime Minister invited industry to engage with him on tax and other matters at a USIBC event in New York on September 27, 2013. This unprecedented level of engagement is unusual and demonstrates a commitment to hear companies’ concerns and to set policies right.
In addition, the Central Board of Direct Taxes this year reconsidered a circular on R&D taxation, moving this in line with international norms. Most significantly, India created a new Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC), led by Dr Shome—a globally recognised tax expert—who has consistently shown a commitment to address business concerns shared by both domestic and foreign investors.
On intellectual property:
Technology and innovation will be key for both our future economies. To achieve greater