Assocham wants India to argue free trade with Donald Trump

Assocham, a lobby of Indian industry, has urged the government to impress upon US President Donald Trump the extent of business activities carried on by American firms in India.

Assocham’s comments come in the wake of moves by Trump to cut down on what he calls the ‘misuse of H1b visa’ program. According to the American federal administration, Indian companies — by far the biggest recipients of visas meant for ‘specialized talent’ have been gaming the system by flooding the lottery system with applications.

The move could hurt the business model of Indian companies, who typically ship lower paid engineers from their home base to work in the offices of their American client corporations.

“If Indian IT firms have got a good foothold in the US, American top notch firms like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple, Coke and Pepsi are getting quite a liberal market access in India without any restrictions,” Assocham said.

“In a technology driven and free market global economy, governed by rule-based multilateral World Trade Organisation, major trading partners should abstain from unilateral restrictions on flow of trade in goods and services. After all, the global economy is inter-dependent,” the chamber said, expressing concern over a host of restrictions on visa for Indian IT professionals in the US.

“It is a matter of concern that in the name of America First, restrictions are sought to be slapped on Indian IT firms, which are creating jobs in the US as well. Moreover, the software solutions the Indian firms develop for the world market are built around the platforms and tools of the American technology majors. Such a thing should be conveyed to the American President when our Prime Minister meets him during his impending visit to the US”, the ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

The ASSOCHAM said even in the IT services , it is not only the Indian firms like TCS and Infosys which are outsourcing to the American clients but scores of American companies which have set up huge centres in cities like Pune, Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Chennai and Hyderabad for their global clients. “Yes, they do create jobs for Indians, but also repatriate billions of dollars as profits and India is fine with it. Thus, it is absolutely unfair to target Indian firms which are facing increasing pressure in the US through different non-trade measures like visa fee and other unrelated levies”.

India runs its overall trade gap of over USD 105 billion in goods alone with rest of the world, being liberal with its imports which aggregated USD 380 billion in 2016-17 while exports were about USD 275 billion. “We give much more market access to the world than we enjoy elsewhere,” the chamber said, adding the US corporates are immensely benefiting by doing business with India and Indian companies and that must be conveyed to the US administration”.