Visa hike issue is purely political: Frank Wisner | india | Hindustan Times
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Visa hike issue is purely political: Frank Wisner

india Updated: Aug 24, 2010 01:19 IST

Former US diplomat Frank Wisner on Monday termed America's move to increase visa fees as "political" but said it would not hurt the interests of Indian software companies in the long run.

"This move is a political move... by Capitol Hill, and not the US administration... it's not a free-trade gesture," Wisner said addressing a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Bangalore.

Wisner, a former US Ambassador to India, however, indicated such a "protectionist measure" was not unexpected during the "pretty tough economic cycle" like the one the US is currently undergoing.

"Proliferation of measures in the Congress and state legislatures (in US)," targetted at call centres in India a decade ago was "much more severe threat," Wisner, currently International Affairs Advisor, Patton Boggs LLP, said.

Though it was thought at the time that it would affect call centres in India, "it has not happened", he pointed out, indicating the visa hike issue would also not have an impact.

Meanwhile, ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to India in November, Wisner said, both sides need to focus on the road ahead, the goals they want to pursue and spell out their "shared vision".

He said US and Indian businesses would like to see progress on the negotiations on bilateral investment treaty, adding, the Americans would "welcome" if India shared burden in maintaining peace and security in the region and in Asia.

It's important and "absolutely essential" to put into effect the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement to usher in "new energy age" in India, while it produced jobs at home (the US).

He also said US businesses are keen to see India open its insurance and retail sector, but added it will not happen soon.

Eventually and in the long-run, India and the US need to enter into a free-trade agreement. Right now, there is no "political appetite" for such a move, he said.

Taking questions from the audience, Wisner said there is broad concern about rising assertion of Chinese power and advocated the US, India, Japan and Russia to come together, counter that and maintain "balance".