US ready to address Indian concerns over visa fee hike

US ready to address Indian concerns over visa fee hike

US ready to address Indian concerns over visa fee hike

"Purpose of this (India-US economic) dialogue and discussion would be to make sure that we know the full set of concerns and if there are measures that we need to take on that side, we would work on them as well," Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs Lael Brainard said.

In her interaction with a group of Indian reporters ahead of next week's India-US Economic Dialogue, Brainard said her understanding is that in the area of H-1B visas, the country is the biggest -- 50 per cent more than any other nation – beneficiary of this.
The concern of India with regard to the visa fee, she argued, has not altered this figure in any way.

"But this is an area, where we would continue to look at because this is important to you," she said when asked about India's concerns in this regard.

"On social security equalisation, at the moment it is not clear how far we are going to proceed because the systems of the two countries are very different. But we certainly in principle are going to engage in discussions and would continue to do so to see whether there is more potential there," she said.

"I think, in general to the extent to the areas where there are two-way reforms that can be made we are obviously going to be very interested in hearing about them and figure out ways to proceed.

For instance, it could be quite beneficial to reinvigorate conversations, starting at a technical level, looking at the potential to concluding a bilateral investment treaty which has two-way obligations, Brainard said.A day earlier Corporate America urged policymakers to enter a bilateral investment treaty with India, which they argued is the next key step – after the civil nuclear deal – to strengthen and deepen trade and business ties between the two largest democracies of the world.

"The priority is to deliver on a US-India Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that incentivises greater two-way foreign direct investment," said Ron Somers, President of US India Business Council (USIBC) in his address to the 36th anniversary leadership summit of the organisation which is the apex body of Indian and American corporate world here.
"USIBC calls upon both governments to re-energise BIT discussions, by re-engaging in technical discussions, as soon as possible," said Somers in the presence of top officials and corporate leaders from both the countries.

Earlier this week, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and US Trade Representatives Ron Kirk agreed to fast track technical negotiations for an early conclusion of a Bilateral Investment Agreement.

"We agreed to re-invigorate the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) and make it more robust and effective in resolving bilateral commercial issues, while maintaining the political leadership of the process," Sharma said.

"The two sides also agreed to fast track the technical negotiations for an early conclusion of the India-US Bilateral Investment Agreement," Sharma said, adding that would be two rounds of negotiations before the next meeting of the Ministerial-level TPF is expected to be held in October 2011 in India.