Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a veiled threat, has reportedly hit back at the US on the H1B visa issue and said that their companies are in India too. On the US executive order, she has said that it is not only the Indian companies which will get affected but also the US companies who earn profits which go to their economy. She said that all such factors will be included in the ongoing debate. However, Sitharaman also said that the Government will engage with the US and other countries in a constructive way, in order to resolve the visa issues.
Sitharaman, while speaking at the MindMine Summit said that India has already submitted its proposal on Trade Facilitation in Services in WTO and want member countries to study the proposal. She said that India does not believe that globalisation is in retreat as we are linked deeply with other economies. India has reportedly dragged, not only the US but also Australia and New Zealand to the WTO regarding the new nationalistic policies on the movement of foreign professionals. Meanwhile, Sitaraman did not lay out its plans on ways in which India will toughen its stance, yet one of the methods can be to tighten the monitoring process of the money which Indian subsidiaries pay to their parent companies in the US.
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The comments by Sitaraman, came right after Donald Trump rolled out a directive regarding an H1B Visa review, which brings skilled workers from other countries to the US. Trump recently signed an executive order to bring about changes in the H1-B visa system which employed high-skilled workers from foreign countries. Ever since the announcement, there has been a criticism that this move can affect the IT and outsourcing companies in the US. White House had reportedly said that the current US visa programme was damaging American workers as it brought in cheap labour and some of the firms were making use of this to hire a large number of workers.
The veiled attack on the US policy might lead to a trade war with the US, which can sour ties that until now has been quite smooth even after Donald Trump’s Presidential win. However, Sitaraman’s ‘constructive’ comment might calm the nerves a bit. She also said that India will not accept any treatment that is ‘unfair’. She added that such decisions regarding foreign policies cannot be taken according to the ‘whims’ of countries, and the Prime Minister will take up the issue wherever applicable.
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In a separate event, external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that India is keeping a ‘close watch’ on the US H1B Visa issue. He added that the issue will be taken up with the Trump government as it affects the Indian IT industry. Claiming professionals to be ‘brick builders’ between the countries, Baglay said that there is a mutuality of interests involved and it is not just an immigration issue, rather a ‘trade and services’ problem, PTI reported.