On defense issues, we began the year with a defense roundtable in New Delhi, featuring the US Ambassador to India Ken Juster. Other participants at this event included former Secretary of Defense William Cohen and former CIA director General David Petraeus. We also worked with the 2019 Aero India air show to facilitate passes for interested members, co-led a delegation of senior representatives from the U.S. defense and aerospace industry, and hosted a number of related events, including a roundtable and networking reception, site visits, and seminars on anti-drone technology and start-ups. We facilitated USISPF leadership’s participation to speak at the Global Offset and Countertrade Association (GOCA) Summit and various meetings. Finally, we led a defense delegation, led by former U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, to visit the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Defense Production.
We also submitted a paper on Offsets to Secretary of Defense Production, Shri Subhash Chandra.
On the issue of cybersecurity, we conducted a series of engagements with India’s new National Cyber Coordination Center, in anticipation of an updated national cyber security policy. We hosted U.S. and Indian government delegations at a bilateral Cyber Dialogue event consisting of dinner and discussion, and worked extensively with both governments on the Indo-U.S. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Working Group and Cyber Dialogue.
We provided a number of recommendations on telecommunications issues this year, by filing formal submissions on proposed changes to India’s Guidelines on Intermediary Liability and to licensing requirements for the “Other Service Providers” license category. We also hosted roundtable discussions on a number of key media & entertainment issues, including deregulating the media industry, and strategies for reducing piracy and signal theft. Finally, we addressed issues in the financial technology (FinTech) industry by filing a formal submission on regulatory sandbox models.
On data issues, we continued our engagement with the U.S. Government and Government of India – both executive and parliamentary offices – by hosting delegation briefings and roundtables on topics such as data flows, data localization, data governance, and non-personal data. We also pursued new engagement initiatives, including with the Non-personal Data Expert Committee. Finally, we obtained a letter from the U.S. Digital Caucus to India’s Ambassador to the U.S.
On the issue of e-commerce, we filed formal submissions on draft e-Commerce policy and the E-Commerce Consumer Protection Guidelines that reflected the concerns and priorities of our members. We also held several roundtables with government officials and public opinion leaders, including at the ministerial level.
We co-led a year-long participation in the Competition Law Review Committee’s 10-year review of the Competition Act, along with our knowledge partner Shardul Amarchand, and ultimately filed a formal submission on the Review. Throughout the year, we kept our members up-to-date on key information both through written updates and by hosting Webinars. In November, we co-led a roundtable on competition issues with Federal Trade Commissioner Christine Wilson in New Delhi.
This year, USISPF had extensive engagement with both the U.S. Government and the Government of India on issues of energy, infrastructure, and the environment. From India, throughout the year, we hosted the Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Anand Kumar and Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas MM Kutty, and met with Kunal Kumar from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to discuss forming a working group for issues related to Smart Cities. From the U.S., we hosted representatives from the U.S. State Department’s Energy Bureau, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, the U.S. Trade Development Agency, USAID, and U.S. Science Envoy Dr. James Schauer. We also led a delegation to participate in the US-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force.
USISPF also collaborated with other organizations, such as the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, to host events and workshops. This was also a productive year for the USISPF CEO Water Alliance (CEWA), which met with senior officials from Jai Shakti Ministry to discuss the priorities of Government of India in the water sector and hosted an update discussion in November. USISPF Industry Advisory Council has also taken first steps on its South Asian Women in Energy (SAWIE) initiative, supported by USAID’s Greening the Grid (GTG)-Rise initiative. SAWIE will engage with women professionals representing energy sector on gender sensitivity and enhance the skills of women executives through knowledge exchange programs.
Over the past year, USISPF’s Food and Agriculture committee hosted meetings for its members, including: a Sustainable Food Mission in Delhi, an Embassy of India trade briefing to U.S. meat and processing companies in the U.S., and various individual company meetings with officials from the Government of India and U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, the committee produced a white paper on direct selling, GSP advisory information and talking points for various companies, policy recommendations for the first 100 days of the Prime Minister’s second term, and budget recommendations.
This year, USISPF engaged in many policy advocacy efforts on key financial services issues, including merchant discount rate (MDR) announcements made in the Union Budget 2019-20, 2% tax deduction at source (TDS) exemption pertaining to remittance companies, foreign portfolio investment (FPI) regulations, allowing initial public offerings (IPOs) for asset reconstruction companies, increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) caps for the insurance sector, National Common Mobility Card issues, first preference for reinsurance companies, and regulatory and taxation issues regarding foreign fund managers. We also hosted a number of events for our members, such as roundtables with a delegation – including the Chairman – from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, an event with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the sidelines of IMF-World Bank meetings, and an Indian financial regulator panel with U.S. industry representatives.
USISPF has been active in policy advocacy on issues related to health care. In light of the ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and India, we have worked to move the thinking away from arbitrary price controls on medical devices, and towards trade margin rationalization, by educating stakeholders on both sides. We have worked with pharmaceutical companies to advocate for a revision of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) based on essentiality, and incentivizing incremental innovation. We also continue to advocate against mandated percentages of local content in public procurement, and have advocated for revision of the NHPS procedure packages, to enable participation of private players— both efforts to make India’s health care market more equitable.
We have also hosted many events to educate key stakeholders, and for industry leaders to share views and best practices on health care issues. During the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit this January, we facilitated a panel on deepening US-India health care collaboration. Throughout the year, we also hosted a seminar on biotech innovation and a roundtable discussion on the role of emerging technology in health care accessibility. Finally, we engaged with representatives from both the Government of India and the U.S. government, including signing a memorandum of understanding with USAID regarding pilot programs on the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, and hosting an industry briefing with U.S. Consul General David Ranz in Mumbai.
This year, we convened a trade taskforce co-chaired by Lisa Schroeter of Dow and Mary Thornton of Texas Instruments, with Frank Samolis (co-chair of Squire Patton Boggs International Trade Practice) and Mark Linscott (Senior Advisor at the Asia Group and former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative) as knowledge partners. We conducted sustained engagement on bilateral trade negotiations with officials at the USTR and Ministry of Commerce, and held numerous roundtables and private consultations with principles of both governments. Finally, we co-issued the report “Trade at a Crossroad: A Vision for the US-India Trade Relationship” with the Atlantic Council, and held briefing events on the Hill and with government officials in New Delhi to communicate our recommendations and findings.