The United States ambassador to India would like the biggest American tech firms to meet with government officials in New Delhi to discuss data localization and eCommerce.
Last month Kenneth Juster wrote to the heads of leading U.S. technology companies in India with the request that they “participate personally” in the discussions, while also promising them support in their work for a fair playing field in the country.
“Our Embassy will continue working with you to ensure that U.S. firms compete on a level playing field. My team at the Embassy stands by ready to help,” Juster said in his letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. “We look forward to your continued success in India.”
While the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi would not comment on the letter, it did reveal that U.S. companies were the biggest source of foreign direct investment in India. “We hope that the Indian Government will pursue policies that create a welcoming and predictable environment for U.S. investors,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
India has imposed tighter foreign investment rules for the online retail sector, as well as come up with plans that will require companies to store more of their data locally. Companies including Amazon, Walmart, Mastercard and Visa have been impacted on the investment side, while the proposed data rules will affect firms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
In his letter, Juster said he had met Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal, who assured him that the government was adopting a “consultative approach” to the proposed regulations.
“The Government of India is seeking stakeholder input, and, given the importance of these issues, we strongly encourage you to participate personally in future meetings with the Minister and other senior officials,” Juster said in his letter.
Sources said at least four U.S. technology firms had received the letter.
“It is not normal to get such letters, but these are not normal times,” said one of the executives.