Concerns already registered with US leadership: Anand Sharma.

Arun S

Nairobi, Oct 14

Technology denial regime is likely to be high on the agenda during the forthcoming India visit of the US President, Mr Barack Obama, according to sources in the know of the development.

A careful scrutiny of the US norms shows that India has been denied 10 of the 16 types of technology that may involve dual use applications in fast growing fields such as IT (hardware and software), Defence, bio-technology and food processing, Dr Amit Mitra, Secretary-General, FICCI, told reporters here. However, the European Union and other strategic allies are only denied somewhere between two and four of the 16 types, he said.

The Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, told media persons here on the sidelines of the ‘Namaskar Africa' event, organised by FICCI and the Indian Government, that he had taken up the issue with the US during his trips to that country in June, and in September at the India-US Trade Policy Forum meeting.

“During my talks with the US Trade Representative and the US Commerce Secretary, I had raised the issue of technology denial for the export control regime as such and I am sure that our concerns have been seriously registered with the US leadership,” Mr Sharma said.

Industry sources said even though the US currently treats India as a strategic ally, it does not give India equal treatment with the EU-member countries.

Dr Mitra said “FICCI is looking forward to a relaxation, if not elimination, of the technology denial regime in the US today, which is controlled by its Department of Commerce, Munitions Controller and the State Department of the US.” He said the US should look at integrating these three bodies into one entity for issues regarding dual use technologies.New Delhi had hoped that the inking of the civil nuclear deal would immediately bring an end to the US' technology denial regime against India. The Indian industry has been demanding that Washington should remove stringent export controls on high-technology transfer to India. The concern regarding the US regime stems from the fact that any of the latest technology in certain fields can have dual use implications (that is it can be used for civilian or defence purposes), and therefore can be denied to India, he said. For instance, hardware and software technologies can be used for manufacturing missiles and corporate work.Also, even if India raises Foreign Direct Investment limit in defence sector from 26 per cent to 74 per cent, US may not encourage its companies to invest in India saying some of it may fall under dual-use, sources said adding that it could result in an opportunity loss for India.However, some US officials have hinted that Washington may liberalise India-specific norms in this regard to facilitate easier export of hi-tech equipment to India, a move which would in turn better trade ties with India and give more business to US companies.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 15, 2010)
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