The Fourth India-US strategic dialogue, co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, did not resolve any of the economic issues during their sitting here on Monday but did provide a road map to resolving some of them.
India’s pressing concerns about a new law that will impose high fees for visas for software professionals will now be largely quarterbacked by corporates.
India had wanted the issue to be discussed at a meeting of the Trade Policy Forum because it feels the higher visa fees is more of a non-tariff barrier than an immigration issue but the U.S. was reluctant. Both sides felt the industry, which would bear the brunt of the fee hike, should take it up with American legislators framing a new immigration law.
Accordingly, this will be discussed at a meeting of the Indo-U.S. CEOs Forum on July 12 in Washington. This forum will also further develop joint initiatives and will discuss ways to overcome business challenges.
During the dialogue, New Delhi pointed out that Indian software professionals working in the U.S. was the pillar of the new closeness between the two countries.
Curbs such as a high upfront visa fee were a trade issue as it affected the working of Indian software companies in the U.S.
The U.S., on the other hand, pressed for a bilateral investment protection agreement but Indian diplomats wanted Washington to be patient as the new template was still being worked out by the Finance Ministry.
The existing format has the provision of a sovereign guarantee for every investment decision.
The Finance Ministry is now working on a model that not only keeps sovereign guarantees out but prohibits aggrieved companies from going in for arbitration if they lose their case in civil courts.
The dialogue also saw India expressing willingness on increasing the foreign direct investment limit in sectors such as defence and insurance although the Government’s ability to deliver on any likely commitment remains doubtful.