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H-1B visa unlikely to be thorny issue in Modi-Trump talks: USIBC

American business advocacy group said the talks could yield a 'win-win formula' for both sides

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
Donald Trump and Narendra Modi

The H-1B visa programme is unlikely to be a thorny issue in the maiden meeting between US President and Prime Minister Modi and the talks could yield a "win-win formula" for both the sides, a top American business advocacy group today said.

"I believe the visit will yield a win-win formula for both countries. I am very optimistic that it will go very well when Prime Minister comes here," Aghi, president of US Business Council (USIBC) told PTI.

Under the umbrella of US Chambers of Commerce, is the largest representative body of top American businesses having a footprint in

Prime Minister Modi will on June 26 hold talks with on a range of issues, including and India's concerns over possible changes in H1B visa rules, in their first bilateral meeting after the new administration took over in the US.

The bilateral talks appear to be no bed of roses as they come amidst thorny issues like US' plans to reduce the number of H-1B visa slots that are mainly used by Indian IT workers, and its withdrawal from the historic

Closely involved in the preparations for Modi's US visit from June 25 as an industry representative, Aghi said the H-1B visa programme is unlikely to be a major issue of discussion between the two leaders.

Responding to a question, he said it is unlikely to be a strain in India-US ties.

"I believe this (H-1B) will not be an issue which will cause any kind of strain in discussion. The US industry needs technical resources to become more efficient, more competitive. And at the same time, I think have a good supply from India," he said, adding that H1B visa issue is not just a US issue, it is an issue for the US business community.

"It is a supply and demand issue. And, the industry needs more technical resources and the supply is constrained there," he said.

"Our (USIBC) position is that we basically are supportive of H1B programme, and I don't believe that's the issue between the two leaders because you look at last year's number, the number has dropped by 35 per cent from Indian companies, for H1B," said the president.

Trump had made the alleged abuse and fraud in H-1B visa system a major election issue during his campaign.

Aghi said India-US ties is the most important strategic issue at this stage.

"I think all sides realise value of this partnership and both sides are working to make this deeper and much further than where it is now," he said.

"When I walk the corridors of the Hill, or down in the White House, what I essentially get is, this is very important relationship, and tell us what needs to be done to move the bar further up between the two countries," Aghi said.

Of the firm belief that the Indian economy will grow at a faster pace at least for the next 20 years, the president said this would create tremendous market opportunity for US companies.

"To gain market share, if you look at Uber or Amazon or Facebook or WhatsApp, their market dominance in is growing, and it affects their stock up to the Chinese market also," he said.

Responding to a question, Aghi said Trump's 'America First' and Modi's 'Make in India' policies are complimentary to each other.

"I believe they're complementary, because I see India buys more and more defence, which in turn creates more jobs. Indian airlines place more order by US manufacture of planes, place more jobs here," he argued.

"If you move a lot of these manufacturing to India, it still creates more jobs. It is a complementary relationship. So I think my perspective of this is, it needs more long-term capital investment for the infrastructure. And, there is a lot of cash, it's not earning that high interest of return, so India provides the opportunities, especially for large pension funds," he said.

Notably, Modi's US visit comes in the backdrop of Trump's announcement to withdraw the US from the historic Paris Climate Agreement signed by over 190 other countries. Trump had blamed India and China for the US withdrawal.

First Published: Sat, June 17 2017. 15:27 IST