India has raised the issue of visa fee hike by the US, emphasising the Obama administration not take any step detrimental to the interest of Indian IT professionals.
The issue, which has an impact on the Indian IT industry, came up for discussion between visiting US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in New Delhi on Monday.
Locke is leading a 24-member high level US business delegation, which will also visit Mumbai and Bangalore.
“We hope that there will not be any measures which negatively impact on the movement of professionals between the two countries,, particularly, our IT professionals in the US,” Sharma told reporters after the meeting on Monday.
When asked whether India would drag the US into the WTO on the issue, Sharma said: “I don’t think we have reached that stage.”
Supplementing, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said that the two countries are trying to work out a solution.”Give us some time to see if we work out a solution. We do not go and rush into court everytime,” Khullar said.
The US has recently hiked visa fees in certain categories of H1B and L1, which was mainly used by Indian IT professionals, to fund security measures along the US-Mexico border.
According to software industry body Nasscom, the Indian IT-BPO sector is estimated to grow 19 percent in revenue terms during 2010-11 to USD 76 billion.
The US is an important destination for Indian IT-BPO sector.
Both the sides also discussed the issue of market access, reduction of trade barriers and technology transfer for solar power plants.
The bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 50 billion in 2010.
Sharma also said that the US has removed Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from its restricted entities list.
The step would enable the said firms in the sector to import high-end technologies and engage in sensitive items without a license which was mandatory till now.
The US has decided to remove nine India space and defence related companies from its Entities List, the move which would help in boosting high technology trade between the countries.
“…they have removed all export controls…Gary Locke was confirming that they (the US) have completed all their internal procedures and they (Indian companies) now stand removed from those list,” Sharma said.
He said now there would be full cooperation in space and nuclear technology and other high-end technologies between the US and India.
Sharma also discussed commencement of negotiations for a free trade pact with America.