FDI inflow to US affected, says Marek Gootman.
India has been trying hard to pressurize the United States to do away with what they feel is arbitrary hike in H-1B visa and L-1 visa fees and to curb down on protectionism, and that seems to be resonating in the Obama administration and even some top Republicans, as some influential individuals are calling out in support of India’s stand.
President Obama’s former classmate and a close friend Vinai Thummalapally, who was selected to setup SelectUSA in 2011 to attract foreign investments into US, has endorsed India’s stand on the visa and labor issues.
Thummalapally said while India is the fourth fastest growing FDI source for US, there are hurdles faced by Indian companies looking at investments in US which need to be resolved. Speaking specifically about the H-1B visa issue to BusinessLine, in Washington, DC, he said, “This is a huge issue for us. What we do is we actually communicate this to the White House and this is a big concern for the Indian companies. Of the top 18 companies in IT services about 15-16 are Indian companies including Wipro, Tatas and Infosys. They have been impacted by the rule.”
He said US affiliates of Indian-owned companies employed 45,100 employees in US in 2013 and contributed $1.5 billion to US goods exports in the same year and fears of job losses by bringing in foreign workers is unfounded.
Thummalapally added that India-US trade has the potential to grow from $117 billion to $500 billion in next 10 years but protectionist moves such as doubling the work visa fee, said the BusinessLine report.
In March, India initiated a WTO dispute proceeding against the United States regarding measures imposing increased fees on certain applicants for H-1B and L1/L2 visas. According to India, the measures appear to be inconsistent with US commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services.
Republican Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, and a likely contender for a vice presidential ticket, has also come out in support of India.
“We have so many Indian students that come here and go to our universities and what kills me is the fact that they are trained, they are talented and then they get sent back. There’s a lot of talent in India and that talent when they come here and they get educated here, it’s the first talent we want to see be able to join our forces and work for our companies,” said Haley, speaking to BusinessLine.
Also, FDI flow into US more than halved to $106.6 billion in 2014 from $211.5 billion in 2013.
“There is a huge dichotomy in US’ trade policies, which is increasingly becoming protectionist while trying to attract more investment. This has led to US share of global FDI falling from 45 percent in 1984 to 12 percent in 2012. India is a huge untapped market for US and H1B visa issue has had a huge negative impact of trade,” said Marek Gootman, director, strategic partnerships & global initiatives at Washington DC based think tank Brookings Institute, speaking to BusinessLine.