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India seeks Congressional help over immigration bill

November 20, 2013 09:46 IST

India seeks Congressional help over immigration bill

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Lalit K Jha in Washington

India has sought Congressional help in addressing its concerns over certain alleged discriminatory provisions of the comprehensive immigration bill, which if passed into law would adversely impact Indian IT companies.

"One of the concerns, Indian businesses are seeking to address, and where the US Congress can help them, is about the current debate, on restrictions on the movement of high-skilled non-immigrant professionals employed by Indian IT companies into the United States," Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Charges d'Affaires of the Indian Embassy in the US, said.

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Image: Immigrant families, workers and supporters march to the Federal building downtown to protest the United States Department of Homeland Security I-9 audits of their employment eligibility in San Diego, California April 26, 2013.
Photographs: Mike Blake/Reuters

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"These discriminatory provisions, if they are enacted, will essentially create a market access barrier, for Indian IT companies in the US and will, not only cause damage, to their operations, but will also impact the ability of US companies, who depend on their services to innovate, grow and be competitive, and affect  the local economies," Sandhu said on Tuesday.

He was addressing the 'Indian American Meetup' event organised by the GOP Conference and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at the Capitol Hill.

The Indian IT industry has led the way, in strengthening the India-US trade and investment relationship, Sandhu said adding that today, companies like TCS, Wipro, Infosys and HCL employ well over 50,000 US citizens and support more than 280,000 other local US jobs.

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Image: A man waves the U.S. flag as others gather during a protest against Senate Bill 1070 (SB-1070), in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photographs: Darryl Webb/Reuters

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"They are integral, to the operations of many US companies, helping them in developing new products, and improving operations and efficiencies," he argued.

Trade and economic partnership, remains a central pillar of expanding India-US ties, creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of people in both countries, he said.

"Our bilateral trade today, has reached $100 billion, and maintains an upward trajectory.

Indeed, despite global economic slowdown, US exports in goods and services to India, which is nearing $50 billion, have grown by an impressive 12 per cent,  in the first half of 2013," Sandhu said.

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Image: US President Barack Obama.
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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Noting that US is an important source, for foreign direct investment, in India, he said for the US, India is now, among, the fastest growing sources, of inward investment.

More than 65 large Indian corporations, including TATA, Reliance, ESSAR, Piramal and others , have invested in the US, about $17 billion, in a number of US states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee and Kansas among others over the last five years, he said.

Taking note of the concerns expressed in US about the pace of reform in India and it's investment climate, Sandhu said New Delhi is sensitive to these views.

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Image: An American flag.
Photographs: Larry Downing/Reuters

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"Government of India has focused, on improvement of our investment regulations, leading to significant foreign direct investment liberalisation, in the past year, in a number of sectors, of US interest -- including, multi-brand and single-brand retail, civil aviation, telecommunications and defence," he observed.

"In addition, clearances for pending projects, have been fast-tracked, taxation issues have been addressed upfront and clarified, and the much talked about Preferential Market Access guidelines for private sector companies have been kept in abeyance," Sandhu said.


Image: The Tribute in Light is illuminated next to the Statue of Liberty (C) and One World Trade Center (L) during events marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2013.
Photographs: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

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