Obama aide meets PM, allays visa concerns

Monday, October 18, 2010

NEW DELHI - Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s maiden visit to India next month, his economic adviser Lawrence Summers Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and allayed New Delhi’s concerns over curbs on outsourcing and hike in visa fee that is set to hit the Indian IT industry.

Summers, who arrived in India last week, called on Manmohan Singh and discussed a host of economic issues that could figure in discussions between the two sides during Obama’s visit, likely Nov 5-8.

US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer was also present at the meeting.

Summers sought to allay India’s concerns over the recent hike in 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, sources said.

Last week, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that during Obama’s visit, India will convey the concerns expressed by India’s IT industry about outsourcing and the tightening of visa rules by the US.

Summers also conjured up a vibrant picture of economic ties and shared ideas for bilateral strengthening of trade and investment between the two countries amid India’s expectations that the US will loosen up restrictions on high-tech trade with New Delhi.

In a speech in Mumbai, Summers lauded India’s people-centric economic model.

Sharing India’s concerns over protectionism, Summers said: In the end, protectionism makes people poor, makes nations more hostile to one another, reduces opportunities for businesses and for workers.

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