India seeks US reciprocity in solving trade, investment issues

28 Sep 2013


India on Friday vowed to address US concerns over trade and investment policies in the country in a "candid, open and transparent" manner so as to achieve a five-fold increase in two-way trade from the current level of $100 billion.

This, however, is contingent on Washington addressing visa issues, which have great implications for India's information technology sector, Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao said.

India will take care of US concerns in "a candid manner, open and transparent manner. We would like US to understand the development challenges that India faces, the situation in which we live in terms of the environment around us," Rao said.

On the proposed changes in the non-immigrant visa rules that would affect H1B visas, she said although the issue is "still work in progress", India has voiced concern with US lawmakers.

She said India has reason to be concerned because these restrictions, if become a reality, are surely to affect Indian companies and Indian IT professionals.

"We have been candid. Our concern is understood by our interlocutors but don't know what will happen... We don't know what the final shape will be," she added.

In the summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Obama, the two sides have, meanwhile, vowed to expeditiously address all trade and investment policy issues to remove obstacles and improve business environment in both countries.

In a joint statement issued after a summit meeting between Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a high-standard bilateral investment treaty that will ''foster openness to investment, transparency, and predictability, and thereby support economic growth and job creation in both countries.''

The leaders welcomed progress towards increased engagement by experts from both governments, underlining the need for expeditious progress to address all trade and investment policy issues of bilateral concern, so as to remove obstacles and improve the business environment in both countries.

Towards this the two sides have agreed to consider the setting up of a Joint Committee on Investment in Manufacturing.

Among the major pending issues, the US has been pressing for further opening of the insurance sector. A bill to increase the FDI cap in insurance from 26 per cent to 49 per cent has been pending in Parliament since 2008.

India, according to Rao, would take up the visa issue with the US administration, which has a direct bearing on the IT sector in India. "Trade grew rapidly in the recent years, touching $100 billion.

Service sector is the engine of growth. This is why the ongoing discussion Comprehensive Immigration Reforms Bill and that aspect of the reforms that touches the skilled IT professionals from India have been receiving our close attention. So, this will be flagged," she said.

The Obama-Singh meeting would not only review the progress made in the relationship but also set the pace and scope of the ties between the two largest democracies of the world and help accelerate the momentum of the co-operation, Rao said at a media briefing.

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