Doha talks failure cost India more H-1B visas: US

Via The Times of India
8 Sep 2008, 1945 hrs IST,PTI

NEW DELHI: The US on Monday said India “missed” a major opportunity to get a liberalised regime for the much sought-after H-1B visas by not agreeing to Doha deal in Geneva this July.

“Among the issues on the table in the Doha Round were Mode 4– movement of professionals– and potential to raise the cap on H-1B visas. By not participating fully in the round, India missed an opportunity to be able to work on these issues that are important for its future,” US Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary (Market Access and Compliance) David Bohigian said at a CII seminar here.

Marathon talks between 30 key trade ministers for a global trade deal collapsed at the WTO headquarters over differences between India and the US on a safeguard mechanism for farmers in developing nations against import surges.

“One casualty of this (failure of talks) is that H-1B visa and Mode 4 are no longer being discussed,” Bohigian said.

The US issues about 65,000 H-1B visas every year allowing foreign professionals to take up temporary work in America. India has been seeking easier and greater access for its professionals in the US market, particularly in sectors like IT, consultancy and health care.

Bohigian said India and other countries need to come back to the Doha negotiating table “as quickly as possible” to develop market access for firms and workers.

While student visas were at an all-time high, US Department of Commerce, State Department and Homeland Security are working to make the visa rules easier for foreign direct investors. In 2007, Indian firms invested three billion dollars in US which the American official wants to double in the near future.

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