Jay Timmons' Remarks at the CQ Roll Call and The Economist Policy Breakfast Briefing Event (Washington, D.C.)

Thank you, Beth [Bronder]. And thank you all for joining the National Association of Manufacturers, CQ Roll Call and The Economist this morning as we discuss ways to improve the absolutely vital partnership between the United States and India—a partnership that can define this century if implemented correctly.

Manufacturers in the United States have long sought a new and brighter chapter with India, to enhance growth and opportunity not only here at home but also to raise the quality of life for all people around the world and in a country that shares our commitment to progress through innovation.

In April, I was at the Hanover Trade Fair in Germany. India was the partner country and Prime Minister Modi was very passionate about his country’s potential.

India and the United States have two of the world’s most creative economies, leading to new discoveries and limitless possibilities. A strengthened bilateral commercial relationship will bolster our economies, empower our people and jump start the next wave of economic growth.

India and the United States have two of the world’s most creative economies, leading to new discoveries and limitless possibilities. A strengthened bilateral commercial relationship will bolster our economies, empower our people and jump start the next wave of economic growth.

But, as I relayed to the Prime Minister, stronger ties, and more jobs for the people of each country, are opportunities that are still in question. India’s discriminatory and market-limiting policies seriously undermine the U.S-India commercial relationship. They harm manufacturing and services industries in the United States to a significant degree.

That’s why just over a year ago, manufacturers were encouraged when Prime Minister Modi declared India “open for business” and committed to incentivize investment—all great signs—his hopeful rhetoric has not yet turned into concrete policy reform. Put simply, we haven’t seen the results.

As an example, the Modi government has at least said it recognizes the importance of strengthening its weak intellectual property rights to protect innovators at home and abroad in its draft National IPR Policy. The reality, though, is the government has not implemented any significant policy changes to realize this goal. 

Similarly, Prime Minister Modi’s talk of opening up the country’s market to increase foreign investment was undercut when India stalled a previously agreed upon WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement—jeopardizing a deal that included 160 countries with an estimated $1 trillion add to the global economy. Ultimately, India and the WTO agreed on a deal late last year—but India is still dragging its feet on honoring the agreement.

India’s policies obstruct the ability of the United States and other countries to sell our products outside our borders and hinder India’s ability to fully participate in the global market. India is the 10th largest economy in the world. But today, it is not even among the top 15 destinations for U.S. exports. Indeed, the U.S. International Trade Commission has stated that if India removed discriminatory barriers and improved intellectual property protection, U.S. exports to India would rise by two-thirds—the equivalent of $14.4 billion—and U.S. investment would roughly double.

Manufacturers in the United States and around the world are eager to invest in India, but first, we need Prime Minister Modi to enact serious policy reforms that level the playing field for all, and encourage—and protect—collaboration and innovation.

Manufacturers in the United States and around the world are eager to invest in India, but first, we need Prime Minister Modi to enact serious policy reforms that level the playing field for all, and encourage—and protect—collaboration and innovation.

It's great to see legislators, government officials, economists and experts who have gathered today to discuss policies India can implement to open the country up for business; as well as ways the United States can work with India to strengthen bilateral commercial ties and boost trade, investment and economic growth in both countries.

Now is not the time to simply not accept a reality that’s short of the ideal we envision. Now is the time to ensure that good words are backed up by good deeds, to bring about the changes we seek and to keep moving forward together to advance one of our nation’s—and the world’s—greatest opportunities. And when that happens, manufacturers in the U.S. are ready to go.

Thank you.