India hopes to lobby quietly to protect IT industry in the US

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 13, 2017


The fact that both the US Congress and Senate are led by Republican candidates is acting as the spoiler

India is taking comfort from the realisation that restricting work visas for Indian IT professionals may not be on top of the priority list for the Trump administration and it has some time to try and convince legislators not to make the proposed harsh moves.

“In the recent meetings that the Commerce and Foreign Secretaries had with US politicians, the clear message from the Americans was that dealing with Indian workers was much lower on their priority list which was dominated by action points such as renegotiating NAFTA, bridging the Chinese trade deficit and containing the ISIS. So, with the assurance that we had some time in hand, it was decided to kick off a sustained campaign to convince legislators not to make unfavourable laws for the Indian industry, “a Commerce Ministry official told BusinessLine.

New Delhi is worried about a number of anti-immigration Bills introduced in the US Parliament that includes proposals for doubling the minimum wage rate for such visas to $130,000 from the present $60,000 and disallowing companies with more than 50 employees, of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees.

BIll to curb outsourcing

Recently, another Bill was introduced to curb outsourcing of work by US companies to developing countries such as India.

The two Indian Secretaries not just met senior officials in the US including the Secretaries of State and Commerce but also several Congressional and Senatorial members and influential figures in Washington to point out contributions of the Indian IT industry in the country’s economy, a government official said. “In the Indian Embassy in Washington the division which is handling trade and commerce has also been asked to get more active in their liaison work.

It is now constantly engaged with legislators to drive home the message that Indian professionals add immense value to the American economy,” he said.

What makes the going a bit tough is the fact that both the Houses of the US Parliament — the Senate and the Congress — are led by individuals from the Republican candidates.

“The likelihood of both Houses following US President Trump’s orders is high. We have to work against that odd,” the official added.

IT industry body Nasscom is also holding parallel talks with influential people in the US including Senators, Congressmen and the media. Nasscom had recently sent a delegation to the US to speak to members of the US Congress and Senate on the investments made, jobs generated and taxes paid by the Indian IT industry in the US. It is also engaged with the US media.

Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS generate an estimated $65 billion worth of business in the US and tightening the leash on them could hurt the interest of large US companies they serve.

“Our outreach to the Trump administration will continue. We will use different forums to make our point,” the official said.

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Published on March 13, 2017
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