New Delhi: India on Monday discussed several issues, including proposed restrictions on American work visa and intellectual property rights (IPRs), with the visiting US lawmakers. These issues were deliberated upon during a 45-minute long meeting between commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the eight-member US delegation in New Delhi.
While India raised its concerns regarding H-1B visa restrictions, which will have adverse bearing on the Indian IT industry, the US side flagged the IPR and copyright related matters, people aware of the matter said. Besides, both sides also discussed market access of certain agricultural products.
The US delegation was led by Bob Goodlatte, chairman, Judiciary committee, House of Representatives. He is also scheduled to meet IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The proposed overhaul of popular H-1B visa regime by US President Donald Trump has raised concerns among Indian IT firms, as any changes in the visa regime may result in higher operational costs and shortage of skilled workers for the $110-billion Indian outsourcing industry.
Indian IT sector, which contributes 9.3% to the country’s GDP, is one of the largest private sector employers of 3.7 million people. The US accounts for nearly 62% of the exports, while EU is the second largest market for the Indian IT services exporters with around 28% contribution.
Recently, a US legislation (Lofgren Bill) has been introduced that proposes doubling of the minimum wages of H-1B visa holders to $130,000. The current H-1B minimum wage of $60,000 was fixed in 1989 and has since remained unchanged. Such protectionist stance by the US could also spell more trouble for IT firms that are already facing strong headwinds from currency fluctuation and cautious client spending.