NEW DELHI: Trade minister Anand Sharma on Tuesday accused the United States of excessive trade protectionism, launching a broadside that coincided with the visit of a top US official to patch up a stormy bilateral friendship.

Trade friction between the two countries has increased ahead of the general election in India, amid lingering tension over the recent arrest and strip search of a female diplomat in New York suspected of visa fraud.

The ruling Congress-led UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not want to be seen as bowing to US pressure on trade issues ranging from the quality of Indian drug exports to software piracy.

“There are issues which India has raised where we feel there is very high and unacceptable protectionism,” Sharma told reporters, adding that Washington made it too hard for Indian nationals to obtain US visas. 
He also said that India’s patent law was compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), while India would not agree to tougher rules to protect intellectual property.

India is furious about a decision by the Office of the United States trade representative to drag it before the WTO over the subsidies and local content rules it has set to promote solar power generation.

Trade ministry officials say India’s rules on local sourcing were fully compatible with the WTO, and they argue that 16 US states have similar local sourcing provisions.

Indian analysts say the Obama administration appears to be seeking trade advantages from a weak government as part of its wider drive to export away the US trade deficit, which despite narrowing last year still totaled $470 billion.

“The US seems to be looking at exports to India, China and other emerging markets to support its economic growth,” said NR Bhanumurthy, an economist at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, a Delhi-based think-tank.

“These frictions are likely to continue until a global recovery eases the pressure.” The US embassy was not available for comment outside office hours.

source: times of india