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Reliance halts US lobbying for 4th straight quarter

Last updated on: December 9, 2012 17:54 IST

Reliance halts US lobbying for 4th straight quarter

Leading corporate house Reliance Industries has kept its lobbying activities among US lawmakers on hold for the fourth quarter in a row, after having paid nearly $2 million to its lobbyist in Washington in past few years.

Mukesh Ambani-led RIL group continues to retain a lobbyist in the US, where it began lobbying in 2009 for its business activities and other causes. Since then, it has paid about $1.9 million (over Rs 10 crore) to its lobbyist, Barbour Griffith & Rogers LLC (BGR).

However, the latest lobbying disclosure report filed with the US Senate shows "no activity" by BGR on behalf of its client RIL for the fourth consecutive quarter in the last three-month period ended September 30, 2012.

BGR still maintains its registration in the US as RIL's lobbyist and is therefore required to file quarterly disclosures about its activities regarding this client as perthe US regulations.

In the first eight quarters of its lobbying activities (from 2009 to 2010) in the US, RIL had paid $190,000 every quarter, while the payments made to BGR later dropped to $120,000 in the last three quarters (between January toSeptember 2011) when some lobbying work was done.

As per the quarterly lobbying disclosure reports filed with the US Senate, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has been one of the major Indian entities lobbying for its cause among the US lawmakers for past few years.

In the recent past, RIL has expanded its presence in the US and other foreign countries, while the US government's policies are said to have significant implications for most of the large corporations across the world.

Lobbying in the government departments and other institutions is a legal activity in the US, but all the registered lobby firms are required to make a disclosure everyquarter about the payments received by them, as also the details of their lobbying activities.

On RIL's behalf, BGR has lobbied with the US Senate, House of Representatives, Department of State and the US Government Accountability Office, among others.

BGR has lobbied for RIL in the areas of domestic and foreign trade and has provided "strategic counsel on issues related to trade", as per the lobbying disclosure reports.

Incidentally, BGR also happens to be the lobbyist for the Indian government, as also the software industry body Nasscom, another major Indian entity doing lobbying in the US. Nasscom is currently lobbying in the US through one more lobbyist, the Lande Group.

For Indian government, BGR is now lobbying in the area of bilateral relationship between the two countries, while its lobbying issues in the past have included the US-India civil nuclear deal.

During the last quarter ended September 30, 2012, the Indian government paid BGR of $180,000, while similar amounts have been paid for eight consecutive quarters now.

The Indian government has paid its lobbyist close to $5 million (about Rs 25 crore) since it began lobbying in the US in September 2005.

On behalf of the Indian government, BGR has lobbied at the US Senate, House of Representatives, US Trade Representative (USTR), Department of State and Department of Commerce.

In case of Nasscom, its main lobbying areas now include visa and employee immigration issues of various Indian IT companies, which have a significant market in the US.For the quarter ended September 30, 2012, Nasscom paid $70,000 to BGR, while its other lobby firm Lande Group got $30,000 for this period.

Similar amounts were paid to the two lobby groups in the previous quarter as well.In the last quarter, Lande Group's lobbying activities for Nasscom were related to "high skilled immigration, STEM visas, visa processing and enforcement, visa types (H-1B, B-1, and L-1B), immigration reform, country caps".

Besides, BGR lobbied on "international technology and immigration issues" on behalf of Nasscom with Senate, House of Representatives, Department of Commerce, US Trade Representative (USTR), Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.

Lande Group has lobbied for Nasscom's case before the US House of Representatives, Senate, the US Trade Representative, the US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the Department of State, Office of Science & Technology Policy, Office of Management & Budget, National Economic Council, Department of Labor, Executive Office of the President, Department of Commerce and the Employment & Training Administration.

Nasscom has been lobbying in the US for about ten years and figures among the Indian entities having indulged in such activities for the longest so far.

Its lobbying bill in 2012 has crossed $200,000 level, while its overall lobbyingexpenses since 2003 exceed $4 million.

Other Indian entities having indulged in lobbying activities in the US in the past include industry bodies like the Carpet Export Promotion Council, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, CII, Forum of Pet Manufacturers, as also corporates like L&T, Sun Pharma, Wipro, Tatas, SAIL, Gujarat Flurochemicals, Flyington Freighters and Orchid Chemicals.

Photographs: Reuters.
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