India not to rush to WTO on US visa fee hike

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 07, 2011 Published on February 07, 2011

Mr Gary Locke, US Secretary of Commerce, called on Mr Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry, at his office in the Capital on Monday. — Kamal Narang

The Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, said that he took up with the US Commerce Secretary, Mr Gary Locke, on Monday the issue of the visa fee hike by America hurting India's information technology sector.

Mr Sharma said he was assured by Mr Locke that Washington was conscious of Indian sensitivities on the matter. Meanwhile, India has decided against rushing to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to settle the issue as it wants to try and solve it bilaterally.

“They (US) have assured us it is not to target the sectors in which India is engaged. They are conscious of Indian sensitivities. They also said they will continue to take measures which would help in greater cooperation,” Mr Sharma told reporters after a meeting with Mr Locke here to review issues of market access and non-tariff barriers.

The US move to hike visa fees has been opposed by the Indian IT industry. “We have raised with the US what ever NASSCOM (the Indian software body) had conveyed to me. We hope that there will not be any measures which impact the movement of professionals between the two countries, particularly our IT professionals going to the US,” Mr Sharma said, adding that he will discuss the issue with NASSCOM in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Mr Sharma said he had also raised the issue with the US Trade Representative Mr Ron Kirk in Davos (Switzerland) recently.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Secretary, Dr Rahul Khullar, said, “We have not reached that stage (of going to the WTO). Please give us time to see if we can work out a solution (before approaching WTO). We don't go rushing to court every time we have a problem.”


Mr Sharma also said the US and Indian officials are engaged on the feasibility of a proposal for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, including trade in goods and services as well as investment, between the two countries.

“The Secretaries of Commerce and Industry departments will be meeting their counterparts. This is a continuous process when we are taking forward agreements including on investment promotion and protection. There are certain proposals which are in the pipeline that are being pursued and taken forward,” he said.

Mr Sharma said trade between India and the US in 2010 was $50 billion and added, “we hope it will continue to improve further given the nature of engagement.”

“Also, investment both ways will see an upward trend, particularly with the US companies setting up manufacturing facilities and participating in India's infrastructure building,” the Minister said.

Removal of export restrictions

Mr Sharma also welcomed the US' move to remove restrictions on exports of high-technology goods to India to strengthen economic and national security ties.

“There will be full cooperation in space technology, nuclear technology and other high-end technologies between the US and India,” Mr Sharma said, adding that there is potential for collaboration between Indian and American companies in geo technologies, solar power, defence, agro- and food processing.

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Published on February 07, 2011
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