Obama pitches for "simplicity" in regulatory, tax environment in India

US President Barack Obama Monday sought "consistency" and "simplicity" in regulatory and tax environment in India besides redressal of issues relating to intellectual property rights to significantly increase trade and business between the world's two largest democracies.

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama Monday sought "consistency" and "simplicity" in regulatory and tax environment in India besides redressal of issues relating to intellectual property rights to significantly increase trade and business between the world's two largest democracies.

In an address to India-US CEO Forum in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Obama said there was huge scope for improving infrastructure in India and enhancing the road network and broadband connectivity will help the business grow significantly.

"There is great interest on part of US companies to find consistency, clarity, greater simplicity in regulatory and tax environment in India. If that occurs I think we are going to see lot more business in India. That is consistent with many of the reforms Prime Minister Modi has articulated," he told the meeting of select group of CEOs.

Obama said Modi has brought new energy and vigour in redesigning the "architecture" in India to facilitate greater growth and investment.

"Modi has brought new energy and vigour to redesigning the architecture here in India so that more business, greater growth, greater investment can take place," he said.

According to the American president, US exporters are "very concerned" about issues like intellectual property rights as US economy was increasingly becoming a knowledge based economy.

He said "absence of an effective IP protection" in India was affecting business.

"We tend to operate at the higher ends of the global value chain," he said.

Obama said often software companies which are doing significant business in India talk about absence of effective intellectual property rights protection which is detrimental to innovation as they are not being "adequately protected".

He also referred to US film production company Disney's investment in Bollywood and called it "pretty exciting".

In his address, Prime Minister Modi said he himself will monitor implementation of the big projects and assured that he would be available to address any issues.

"I am always available. I will listen to you," he told the Forum.

"There was a good suggestion that big projects should be monitored at the level of the PMO. I agree with the suggestion. I take the responsibility of monitoring the big projects. I will monitor them myself," he said.

Modi said he will take along the state governments and talked about importance of India's federalism.

"There will less possibility of variations among the states. There will be closeness among the Centre and the state governments. There will be solutions to small conflicts," he said.

Modi called the IPR issue a major one and said the people across the world have to find a solution to it. He said that a joint working group formed between India and the US can push for greater trade in the two countries. He also said there was huge untapped potential in the tourism sector.

On the agricultural sector he coined the term "per drop more crop" saying adopting such a policy will address issues relating to climate change and well as increase agricultural products.

On infrastructure, Obama said there was also greater interest in finding ways to finance and improve infrastructure in India specifically referred to roads and broadband sector.

"What I am excited about the fact that not only do we have a lot of US business were interested in investing in India but we also have a lot of Indian companies which are already investing in the US and want to do more business," he said.

He told the Indian CEOs that they are going to see sustained engagement from his administration in each of the issues raised by them.

"In last few years we have increased trade by some 60 percent which is nearing a record 100 billion dollars. US exports to India is up by 35 percent and exports from India to US also up," Obama said.

Noting that there is enormous potential in economic engagement between the two sides, he said both the countries are moving in the right direction.

"There is lot more work that's need to be done. We want to see more trade. We want to see more investment. And that kind of sustainable growth will benefit both Indians and Americans," he said.

Talking about India's concerns on the H-1B visa issue, Obama assured the business leaders of addressing it saying "We want to continue attract more high skilled workers to the US" so that more innovation takes place in the country.

He also indicate that Congressional clearance was required for the immigration reform. "We are very excited on what can be done."

In November last year, President Obama had bypassed the Congress to announce the most sweeping reform to fix America's "broken" immigration system to protect millions of illegal workers from deportation.

The plan would allow parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the country temporarily, without the threat of deportation. The measure would apply to those who have been in the US for last five years.

The executive action, said to be one of the largest measure by a US President on immigration, is expected to help a significant number of Indian techies who currently have to undergo a painful and agonising process of H-1B visas to get legal permanent status (LPR), popularly known as Green Card.

Going for a bilateral investment treaty between the two countries and issues relating to social security of Indian professionals also figured during the interaction.

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