US Ambassador conveys conern over business related issues

US Ambassador Richard Verma on Thursday conveyed concerns over business-related issues such as IPR and arbitration after which India assured him that the government was taking a number of steps including amending arbitration law for faster disposal of business disputes.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 03, 2015, 21:07 PM IST

New Delhi: US Ambassador Richard Verma on Thursday conveyed concerns over business-related issues such as IPR and arbitration after which India assured him that the government was taking a number of steps including amending arbitration law for faster disposal of business disputes.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US later this month, Verma met Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to know about various measures taken by the government in view of Modi's push for 'ease of doing business'.

The Ambassador was keen on knowing the status of ongoing legal reforms with special reference to "ease of doing business such as setting up of Commercial Courts and reforms being contemplated in the sphere of arbitration, a statement from the minister's office said.

Gowda said while a bill to set up commercial courts is pending in Parliament, the Union Cabinet has approved amendments to Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 to fasten disposal of business dispute through an out-of-court mechanism.

The government is planning amendments to bring Indian system at par with the international UNCITRAL system, Verma was told. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was established by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the progressive harmonisation and unification of international trade law.

Issues relating to the enforcement of contracts, and international arbitration awards also came up for discussion. The way the required mutual cooperation and required changes are being addressed also came up for discussion.

Verma also expressed keenness on civil legal cooperation, training and exchange of expertise.

The US side also raised the issue of intellectual property rights but it was agreed that Verma will take up the matter with the the Commerce Ministry through the MEA.

"It was a constructive meeting," Verma said but refused to comment any further.

The meeting assumes significance as it comes days before Modi's visit to the US from September 24.

A report released by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation in 2013 had said it takes nearly four years on an average to resolve a commercial dispute in India, making it the world's third worst place in in this regard.

In comparison, it takes just about five months to resolve a commercial dispute in Singapore, the world's best place to do business, as per a latest global report on ease of doing business.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC), a quasi judicial body that advises the US President and US Congress on trade matters, had last year launched an investigation into India's trade, investment and industrial policies.

It had sought permission to visit India to carry out the probe, but India had refused. USITC believes that India is not doing enough to allow innovation and is insisting on local procurement, which is adversely affecting American firms.

Pharmaceuticals, solar power and aviation are some of the sectors that have been affected by these tensions.