Finance Minister P Chidambaram, on Sunday, met his American counterpart Jack Lew and raised concerns of Indian IT companies on visa issues in the comprehensive immigration reform bill which is currently under the consideration of the Congress.
Lew, who led the American delegation for the annual India-US Economic and Financial Partnership meeting, is understood to have assured Chidambaram that he would work towards addressing concerns of the Indian IT companies, particularly those related to H-1B and L-1 visas, within the limitations of US laws and system, a top Indian official said.
"Our Finance Minister raised the concerns that we have with regard to the visa issues, which is presently of great concern to IT companies and also on issues related to FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), which is likely to come to operation shortly as one of the US laws," Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram told news agencies after the meeting.
"Secretary Lew carefully noted our concerns. They have assured us that within the limitations of the US system and the US laws they will try and see how far they can go to assuage the fears and concerns of the Indians on this," he said.
The meeting held at the IMF headquarters in Washington, instead of the Treasury building because of the ongoing government shutdown lasted for about an hour.
"There was a broad spectrum of discussion between the Finance Minister and the Secretary of Treasury. It covered the entire gamut of economic and financial relationship which included areas of anti-money laundering and financing for terror," Mayaram said.
"We also discussed the opportunities which exists for increasing the investments from the US in India, especially in infrastructure and also the new opportunity which may be available to US banks to expand their operations in India," he said.
Broadly there was this understanding that there will be deepening of the relationship between the two countries, Mayaram said.
Chidambaram and Lew also decided that they will meet next year in India to continue the dialogue further, he said.
From the US side, Lew raised the issues of taxation and intellectual property rights.
"The Finance Minister explained to them how our laws are fully complaint with the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and that the decisions of the Government of India on several issues including compulsory licensing were very much in line with international practice," Mayaram said.
"In fact in India it is only one case of compulsory licensing, but there have been 35 other countries which have done compulsory licensing, which includes the US. So therefore one single case can't become cause for major concern. Therefore the Indian position was fully explained," Mayaram said, talking about what Chidambaram told Lew during the meeting.
On the speeding up of the Indian structural reform RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and also SEBI Chairman U K Sinha explained to the US delegation, which among others included Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, that large number of reform measures have been taken and how doing business in India has been improved.
"In fact there was an understanding that there is now need for the US to move in the direction of accepting international standards as far as securities of markets were concerned. So broadly, I think there was good discussion and understanding on these issues," Mayaram said.