CII resents US protectionist steps burdening Indian firms


Bangalore/New Delhi: India Inc Wednesday slammed the US administration for burdening Indian firms with protectionist measures to raise funds for compensating victims of 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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Referring to the signing of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act by US President Barack Obama Monday, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) director-general Chandrajit Banerjee said funding for the $4.2 billion bill would be drawn from the additional cost burden on foreign companies from India and other countries.

“The protectionist measure clearly goes against Indian companies as funds will be raised by levying a two percent tax on foreign manufacturers selling to the US government though they are not party to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement,” Banerjee said in a statement from New Delhi.

Expressing concern over the rising costs and terse business environment for Indian firms operating in the US, especially in pharma and IT, Banerjee said it was unfortunate that the US had taken such a protectionist measure soon after a very reassuring visit by Obama to India early November.

The 9/11 health cost act follows a steep hike in visa fee on Indian software professionals under the Border Security Bill that was moved in August 2010 to fund border protection between the US and Mexico.

“The extension of the border security bill by a year to 2015 will impact Indian firms as they have to pay higher visa fee for sending their IT employees to the US on onsite work,” the statement noted.

Noting that in the past two years, the US administration had imposed a slew of protectionist measures against foreign companies, Banerjee said among them were Ohio State’s ban on offshoring projects, foreign manufacturers legal liability and accountability.

“We understand and appreciate the need to compensate victims of terrorist attacks in the US. But targeting foreign companies to pay for domestic imperatives is unjustified,” Banerjee asserted.

Many critics have pointed to the absurdity of the provisions, which would be akin to India requiring US firms to pay for healthcare compensation of the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

India Inc hoped that the US government would revise its stance on targetting Indian firms that invest and create thousands of jobs in the US.