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Outsourcing blues: India takes US visa fee hike to WTO

AFP  New Delhi, April 10, 2012
First Published: 22:45 IST(10/4/2012) | Last Updated: 22:47 IST(10/4/2012)

India is challenging the United States at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over increased visa fees for skilled workers that have hit the country's flagship outsourcing firms, an official said Tuesday.

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"We are pursuing this at the consultation level," a senior commerce ministry official said on the condition of anonymity. "It is our hope we reach an amicable conclusion."

India has sought consultations with Washington, which is the first step in the WTO's complaints process, he said.

Commmerce minister Anand Sharma discussed the visa issue with his US counterpart John Bryson when he visited New Delhi last month, the official added.

More than half of the world's top 500 companies outsource work to India.

But the Indian industry, which expects to earn $78 billion in export revenues this year, also flies thousands of employees each year to the US to work at their clients' locations as on-site technicians and engineers.

US sponsors of the legislation said the law would hike fees for certain outsourcing firms, including Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, which they accused of seeking to "exploit" visas to "import foreign workers."

The companies denied the allegations and India has called the legislation discriminatory.

Under the 2010 law, US visa fees for skilled workers nearly doubled to $4,500 from $2,500 for firms with more than a 50% non-American workforce.

The visa case comes after the US last month launched a similar action against India at the WTO, charging that New Delhi's ban on poultry and egg imports violated global trade rules.


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