As President Joe Biden visited New Delhi, two powerful lawmakers have introduced legislation in the US House of Representatives to remove high-tech export barriers to India to give a big boost to the unrestricted export of sensitive technologies to the country and bolster bilateral technology cooperation.
The legislation was introduced on Friday by Congressmen Gregory Meeks, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Andy Barr, vice chair of the House India Caucus.
The “Technology Exports to India Act” aims to facilitate the sale of high-performance computers and related equipment to India and strengthen United States-India technology cooperation.
“As President Biden visits India for the G-20 Summit, we are happy to introduce the ‘Technology Exports to India Act’ to bolster technology cooperation between the United States and India,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement.
“This bill removes restrictions on the sale of US products, such as digital computers and electronic assemblies, to India without a Department of Commerce license, thereby enhancing US-India technology trade, linkages between our technology companies, and supply chain resilience for a critical industry,” they wrote.
“In light of the further strengthening of our strategic partnership with India, this legislative change reduces regulatory barriers to technology cooperation,” Meeks and Barr said.
The bill says Congress feels that greater technological and defence cooperation with India is critical to tackling shared geopolitical and security challenges.
As such it is important to reduce regulatory barriers to technological cooperation with India in ways that enhance national security and advance strategic priorities, the bill says.
The bill says President Biden providing flexibility to export high-performance computers to India would bolster United States-India technological cooperation and demonstrate Congress’s commitment to India as a strategic partner.
As such, removing India from the ‘‘Computer Tier 3’’ eligible countries' list in section 740.7(d) of title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations would help to strengthen the bilateral relationship, the bill says.
Noting that the United States designated India a US Major Defence Partner, providing it access to a wide range of military and dual-use items regulated by the Department of Commerce, the bill says for the items controlled for national security reasons by the Department of Commerce, India is subject to a general policy of approval for licenses for civil or military end uses in India or for the Government of India so long as the items are not for nuclear, missile or chemical or biological activities.
However, currently, the export of high-performance computers meeting certain specifications to India requires authorisation of the United States Government under section 1211 of the National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 1998.
The US President does not have the authority to remove or delete India from the excluded Computer Tier 3 eligible country list. The bill once passed by Congress would help facilitate that.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Biden met in New Delhi on the sidelines of the G20 summit and the two leaders vowed to deepen and diversify the bilateral major defence partnership.