NEW DELHI: India will raise its concerns with the US administration on the recent hike in visa fees for intra corporate transferees that has impacted the information technology industry. The Indian officials will discuss the issue at the two-day WTO summit, beginning on Wednesday.
“India hopes that the US will constructively engage with India to address its concerns regarding recent Washington measures which impair the ability of both the US-based Indian companies and Indian professionals to supply services in the US,” a statement from the Commerce Ministry said.
The US had hiked the visa fee for the H-1B and L-1 categories of non-immigrants, specialists and intra-corporate transferees, both of which are part of the US’ commitments under the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services. These are also the same categories that are most extensively used by Indian service suppliers, especially in the IT sector, supplying services in the US.
While the US accounts for close to 60 per cent of software exports from India, Indian IT professionals have had a positive role in contributing to the competitiveness of the US economy. “It is an important step and we are glad that the government is going to take it up strongly at WTO,” R Chandrashekhar, President of Nasscom told Express.
The increasing volume of services trade has contributed to significant economic growth as well as creation of employment opportunities within the US. “It is critical for potential $500 billon bi-lateral trade,” said Chandrashekhar.
The US decision to hike fee for the H-1B and L-1 categories will not only affect the competitiveness of India’s services industry engaged in the US market, but also create uncertainties for Indian service suppliers. They also run counter to the basic principles of a transparent and predictable trading environment, which lies at the very heart of the WTO agreements.
India is hopeful that deliberations during the WTO consultations shall be constructive and it would result in removal of these trade restrictive measures.
C P Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra and also Nasscom Chairman had told Express recently, “On geopolitical and global trade issues, Nasscom has a dedicated set of people in Delhi, London and Washington who are constanatly working with the Ministry of Commerce and External Affairs. Finance Ministry Arun Jaitley’s statement in Washington is reflection of concerns taken up by Nasscom with the government on a regular basis. We realise that global trade will have some challenges. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has referred the matter to WTO. We are working on policy in India, global policy and a lot of think tanks, so we are able to understand different viewpoints.”
Jaitley, in a recently held bilateral meeting with US Trade Representative Michael Froman, stressed that India was concerned over the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee, which is discriminatory and in effect, largely targeted at desi companies.
Indo-US IT Business
The US accounts for close to 60 per cent of software exports from India
The US had hiked the visa fee for the H-1B and L-1 categories, both of which are part of the US’ commitments under the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services