A handful of about 20 US-based companies and industry bodies spent more than USD 200 million (over Rs 1,000 crore) during 2012 on lobbying among the American lawmakers for their Indian business interests and other issues affecting their businesses globally.
The year-end lobbying disclosures of these companies, which are part of the Congressional records with the US Senate and the House of Representatives, come at a time when global retail giant Wal-Mart's lobbying in the US for access to Indian market is being probed by the Indian government.
An analysis of thousands of lobby disclosure reports filed by the US-based lobbyists here every quarter shows that India-focussed issues figured in the lobbying activities of at least 17 entities during 2012, along with other topics.
Together, these 17 entities, which include companies as well as industry bodies, paid a total amount of USD 212 million (about Rs 1,100 crore) to their lobbyists.
Among these, entities like Biotechnology Industry Association, Aerospace Industries Association of America, Dell Inc, Alcatel-Lucent, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Business Software Alliance, Chamber of Commerce of the USA, Pfizer and Colgate Palmolive lobbied for India-focussed issues in the last quarter ended December 31, 2012 as well.
The Indian government has launched a probe into Wal-Mart's US lobbying for seeking access to India. The retail giant, which also continued to lobby for Indian market in the last quarter, has spent more than USD 34 million on its various lobbying activities in the US since 2008, when it began lobbying for Indian market access as well.
Lobbying is a legal activity in the US, but the lobby firms hired by the corporate entities need to make quarterly disclosures about their activities and payments. However, there are no specific regulations about lobbying in India.
The Indian government itself has a lobby firm presenting its case with the American lawmakers, while a number of Indian companies and entities also indulge in lobbying activities in the US through their respective lobbyists.
During last quarter, the Chamber of Commerce of the USA lobbied for the intellectual property issues related to India and other countries, as also for Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations with India, Indo-US economic relations, India's cyber security, and US-India commercial and trade ties.
Pfizer, on the other hand, lobbied on issues relating to an Indian Supreme Court decision on generic medicine pricing and issues relating to cancellation of patent in India.
Other entities having lobbied for India-related issues earlier in 2012 included computer maker HP, telecom firm Qualcomm, financial services majors like Morgan Stanley and Prudential Financial, as also lobby groups like Financial Executives International, Business Roundtable and Financial Services Forum, as well as consumer goods maker Cargill Inc.
Giants like Boeing, AT&T, Starbucks, Lockheed Martin, Eli Lilly and GE have also lobbied in previous years with US lawmakers on "specific lobbying issues" related to India, which include discussions on market opening initiatives and support for sales and business opportunities in the country.
One of the most active entities with India-related lobbying issues in 2012 was Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers with its opposition to the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions in the US until India along with China and Russia implement similar reductions.
Besides, insurance major Prudential Financial has been lobbying for "Indian financial market access and equity ownership issues". Like the government decision to open FDI in retail, a proposal to increase FDI cap in insurance sector is also being vehemently opposed by various political parties.