Obama visit: India to focus on outsourcing concerns, high-tech exports


New Delhi : India Friday said it will raise concerns expressed by its IT industry over the US curbs on outsourcing when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets US President Barack Obama next month and will press for lifting restrictions on high-technology exports.

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India has also allayed US apprehensions about some aspects of the civil nuclear liability bill ahead of Obama’s visit, likely to begin Nov 5.

The growing Chinese assertiveness will also figure in discussions over global issues between Manmohan Singh and Obama during his four-day visit to India.

Obama will begin his maiden visit to India from Mumbai and stay at the Taj Mahal hotel as an act of solidarity with victims of the 26/11 carnage, said sources. He will visit different sites in Mumbai that were targeted by the 10 Pakistan-based terrorists nearly two years ago, added sources.

“There are some serious reservations being expressed in India’s IT industry about outsourcing and the tightening of visa rules. These are the kind of issues that will be discussed,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told journalists here.

He was replying to a question on the areas on which India expected to see positive improvement during Obama’s visit.

Krishna, however, stressed that the commonalities between India and the US are so strong that the problems in perception on some issues will not mar the relationship.

Obama will not go to Bangalore during his four-day visit to India in view of India’s sensitivity over the outsourcing issue.

The US recently hiked H-1B and L1 visa fees for foreign companies, particularly outsourcing giants from India, a controversial step that could cost India’s IT industry $200 million a year.

In August this year, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland of the Democratic Party banned outsourcing, saying this undermined economic development and had unacceptable business consequences for his state.

Ahead of Obama’s visit, India assured the US that the civil nuclear law was aimed at providing a level playing field for doing nuclear business with New Delhi and hoped for constructive discussions on easing of export controls.

There could be constructive discussions on export controls, he said when asked about India’s expectation about the easing of high-tech US exports to India.

“The nuclear deal (between India and the US) was one of the biggest things that happened around which a number of issues are revolving,” said Krishna.

“There were some misapprehensions when the nuclear bill was passed. I had discussions with US Secretary (of State) Hillary Clinton over the phone and subsequently in New York about it,” he added.

Krishna stressed that he assured Clinton that the legislation, which fixes the liability of operator in case of a nuclear accident, was passed not with any country in mind, including the US.

“The whole context was to provide a level playing field to all those who want to do nuclear business with India,” said Krishna.

Krishna added that China will be among global issues discussed between Manmohan Singh and Obama. It would be one of the issues as China is “an important factor” in global matters, Krishna replied when asked whether growing Chinese assertiveness would also figure in the talks. “We will exchange notes on China to see what their (US) approach is and what is our approach (on China),” he said.

Krishna also said that India will address doubts about its stand on the Convention on Supplementary Compensation and clarified that the nuclear liability legislation was not at variance with the CSC, which provides a global framework to deal with additional compensation in the event of an accident in a nuclear power plant.

“We have an open and positive attitude towards India joining the CSC,” said Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who was also present at the interaction with media persons.