ITI’s Message to Modi: “There is much we can do together.”

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With policy wallahs from around the world intensifying their focus on how India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to breathe new life back into his country’s sputtering economy, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) President and CEO Dean Garfield sent a letter congratulating the new leader on his historic electoral victory and suggested policy recommendations intended to help set the stage for a new era of increased investment and trade in information and communications technology (ICT) goods and services.

India represents a huge opportunity for the global tech sector with its 1.2 billion consumers, many of whom are highly skilled and educated.  To be sure, tech companies are already heavily involved in that enormous economy, but in recent years, a range of problematic policies have frustrated the industry’s ability to trade and invest there.  With Modi comes an opportunity to reset the U.S.-India bilateral economic relationship and reshape the policy and regulatory eco-system there in ways that can reverse India’s economic slowdown, the drop in foreign direct investment, and the deteriorating business environment.

We have good cause for optimism.  Modi, a hard-nosed pragmatist, clearly understands the transformational role of ICT and recently stated he is a “firm believer in technology.” This is reflected in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto that includes the so-called “5Ts,” two are which are trade and technology.

In his letter to Modi, Garfield writes that ITI wants to be a helpful partner to grow the Indian economy and underscores that we are especially interested in collaborating to promote the power of technology, increase transparency and predictability, and develop a sustainable environment for growth and investment.

Beyond these high level themes, Garfield includes recommendations that propose specific, concrete steps the Modi government might consider in the near-term on policies that are already impacting trade and investment in India.  These recommendations include suggesting the government:

  1. Improve manufacturing incentive structures for ICT products;
  2. Promote policies that strengthen cybersecurity while not undermining innovation;
  3. Adopt sustainability polices that foster product stewardship;
  4. Take steps to promote better regulatory coherence and predictability;
  5. Encourage the development and use of voluntary, global ICT standards; and,
  6. Work closely with the U.S.to double down on efforts to promote the retention of the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.

Garfield concludes his letter to Modi with, “There is much we can do together.”  He and a team from ITI will travel to Delhi in late July to meet key officials in the Modi government to follow up on these recommendations.  A collaborative, forward-looking approach will be top of mind for ITI in those upcoming discussions.

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