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US investments and technology partnerships with India set to grow

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Washington: Ahead of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to the US, a key trade group has expressed confidence that as India continues reforms US investments and important technology partnerships with Indian industry will grow significantly.

Members of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) comprising 350 top-tier US and Indian companies hosted a Defence Policy Group (DPG) delegation from India ahead of Parrikar’s visit to the US in December. Senior Indian defence ministry officials are in the US for bilateral meetings with the US Department of Defence to discuss progress on joint initiatives such as the US-India Defense Policy Group (DPG) and Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

Welcoming the delegation to Washington, USIBC President Dr Mukesh Aghi welcomed Government of India’s recent announcements allowing FDI up to 49 percent under the automatic route and beyond that with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) approval.

Former US Secretary of Defence, William S. Cohen, and board member of USIBC said he was encouraged by the unprecedented level of engagement between the two governments and the private sector in the area of defence.

“As the Government of India continues its reform effort and streamlines the defence procurement process, I am confident that US investments and important technology partnerships with Indian industry will grow significantly in support of India’s indigenization and national security goals,” he said.

Swami Iyer, Vice President, Honeywell Defense and Space, and Chair of USIBC’s Defence Executive Committee said: “With diligent collaboration, both government and industry can showcase Make in India and India’s improved ease of doing business in current and future defence procurements.”

“We believe continued success in US-India defence trade can be a great enabler for India’s economy and national security.”

The US-India bilateral defence relationship has grown in a robust manner from a mere $200 million in defence trade in 2000 to over $14 billion.

Boeing recently announced that it had won a $3 billion contract from the Indian Ministry of Defence for production, training and support of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.

The order includes options to further buy 11 Apache and 7 Chinook helicopters. These aircraft are being acquired by the Indian Government on Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) basis while their weapon systems like radars and missiles would be through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route from the US Government.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)