UPDATE 1-U.S. trade chief urges India to heed U.S. companies' complaints
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WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urged India on Thursday to reverse course on policies that he said discriminated against American companies and were fraying relations between the world's two largest democracies.
"Let me stress that as a friend of India and one of the caretakers of our economic relationship, I am concerned about the investment and innovation environment in India," Froman said in a speech to the U.S.-India Business Council.
Speaking to the same group, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the United States and India should not let "business rivalry" stand in the way of good relations and asked for patience as India struggles to create jobs for its young and growing population.
He also expressed concerns about provisions in immigration legislation passed by the U.S. Senate that would make it harder for India's information technology workers to get temporary visas to work in the United States.
"In no dictionary is immigration defined as including temporary relocation of knowledge workers. ... Yet the immigration bill has a clause that seems to erect non-tariff barriers on temporary relocation of knowledge workers," Chidambaram said.
Both spoke to the business group before Friday's meeting of the U.S.-India CEO Forum, an annual event that brings together government officials and corporate chief executives from both countries to discuss ways to expand trade and investment.
The meeting takes place at a rocky time in U.S.-India economic relations, with many U.S. lawmakers and business groups complaining about Indian government policies they say discriminate against foreign firms and undermine valuable U.S. intellectual property, particularly for pharmaceuticals.
Economic concerns are expected to remain high on the agenda when Vice President Joe Biden travels to New Delhi later this month and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Washington in September.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Peter Cooney)