India asks US to take a re-look at visa policy


New Delhi:   The Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu has reinforced India’s demand for relaxing the visa norms for the information technology and non-IT professionals, market access in agriculture, non-agricultural goods and services and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and to take forward the collaboration in energy sector, including import of crude.Prabhu and a delegation of Indian team of officials told the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and his team that these remain an area of concern and exploration for India.

The Commerce Minister Industry strongly put forward the Indian concern with regard to problems faced by Indian services companies in obtaining H-1B and L-1 visas. He requested the US to ease the movement of skilled professionals, which has over the years contributed towards making US companies more competitive.

Prabhu pointed to the mismatch between U.S. visa and U.S. social security regimes, wherein Indian professionals making social security contributions do not receive their due benefits upon their return to India. He urged the United States to revisit its position and work towards achieving a totalisation agreement.

On market access in areas of interest to each other, Prabhu sought easing of procedure for export of Indian mangoes and pomegranates and market access for table grapes from India. He also assured the US delegation that issues raised by them like import regulations relating to poultry, export of pork to India will be examined by the Ministry for a resolution.

Prabhu is in US for the 11th Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting in Washington D.C. He also sought support of U.S. to India’s proposal on the Trade Facilitation in Services Agreement which has been tabled by India at the WTO. He informed the gathering and US delegation that National IPR Policy 2016 is a major step towards strengthening the IPR ecosystem in India, including improvements in procedures, timelines and resolution of disputes.

He pointed out that India the commercial relations between India and US on energy sector has improved and India has already started to import crude oil and new Liquefied Natural Gas exports are expected to commence early next year.Meanwhile, acknowledging that there is a very strong issue on medical devices, Prabhu said he explained to his American counterpart that public health is a priority issue for the Indian government. “This is something we would have to balance between the commercial interest and the larger public interest,” he said.

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