India conveys concern to US over protectionism


New Delhi : India Tuesday conveyed its concerns about protectionism in the US over outsourcing of jobs to South Asia and the continuing restrictions imposed on the mobility of professionals, particularly those from the Information Technology (IT) sector.

Support TwoCircles

At a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here during her three-day visit, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna flagged the issue.

“There are issues on both sides,” Krishna said at a joint press conference later.

“I did convey our concerns about the continuing difficulties on mobility of professionals, especially for our IT companies, and protectionist sentiments in the US with regard to global supply chain in services industry,” he said.

But he added that he was thankful to Clinton for her personal attention to the welfare of Indians and Indian students in the US.

India IT services firms are grappling with reduction in the number of business and work related visas issued by the US, their mainstay market, for their employees in recent years.

As presidential election fever grips US, there is increasing poll talk against exporting jobs to India.

Krishna and Clinton also held “a good” discussion on fostering commercial cooperation in civil nuclear energy sector.

Krishna assured Clinton of India’s commitment to provide a level-playing field to all US companies, within the framework of national law and its international legal obligations.

India has after signing the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the US in 2008, passed law for civil liability in case of nuclear damage that is seen by American firms as restrictive for business.

However, Krishna said India was “pleased” that US companies are engaged in substantive discussions with the Indian operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

“We hope that they will make early progress towards contractual steps,” Krishna said.

Clinton also voiced optimism in continuing expansion of trade and investment between the two nations, noting that they have come a long way since 1995 when bilateral trade was $9 billion and now it stood at $100 billion.

“I actually believe there is much more potential to unleash. We should be working toward having one of the world’s largest trading relationships, and we need to continue to reduce barriers and open our markets to greater trade and investment,” she said.

“As part of this, we discussed our landmark civil nuclear agreement. I and Minister Krishna reiterated India’s commitment to ensure a level-playing field for US companies. We welcomed the fact that the NPCIL and leading US companies are engaged in direct conversations on how to move forward together,” Clinton noted.

Both the leaders noted that there was “increasing convergence” of strategic interests of India and US and their consultations were acquiring a global character.