Barack Obama's border act may run into WTO hurdle | world | Hindustan Times
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Barack Obama's border act may run into WTO hurdle

The controversial bill signed into law by US President Barack Obama on Friday set to affect H1B visa applications from India through charges linked to the work permits, may be examined to see if it violates fair trade rules governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

world Updated: Aug 17, 2010 23:58 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

The controversial bill signed into law by US President Barack Obama on Friday set to affect H1B visa applications from India through charges linked to the work permits, may be examined to see if it violates fair trade rules governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Early indications are that it is couched in language that may make it difficult for the charge to stick.

The US Government has confirmed that it has held discussions with Indian officials over the controversial pay-for provision in the Border Security Act. That provision, which appears to target Indian firms in particular, is being examined for possible violations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms.

The Act on the face of it governs border security, but funds to beef up security along the US-Mexico border will come mainly from penalising companies in which more than half the employees on the rolls are on H1B or L1 work visas.

US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said the Obama Administration "was talking to Indian officials" about the "implications" of the new law.

The Bill was passed unanimously by the Senate and the House of Representatives, but India's Ambassador in the US Meera Shankar has communicated to the Obama Administration that the Bill was "discriminatory" in that Indian information technology companies were being targeted.

Experts say it is unlikely that the law will be considered in contravention of WTO norms, as the law contains no discriminatory language, even though it is fairly clear that its target is Indian companies like Infosys and Wipro.