Speaking of Supporting International Trade…

Just after I wrote about a nationalistic tone in Obama’s speech where he encouraged selling into international markets, he signs into law dramatically higher fees on H1B visas that seem to be targeted directly at Indian IT/BPO services companies.  The reaction from India has been swift:

India is protesting a bill in the U.S. Congress that would increase visa fees for foreign workers in the U.S. as discriminating against Indian companies.

“It is inexplicable to our companies to bear the cost of such a highly discriminatory law,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that included excerpts of a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. (from the Boston Globe)

and from immigration experts (in the WSJ):

“It’s adding to the negativity about America,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a visiting scholar at the University of California and research associate at Duke University who studies immigration issues. “The money raised is insignificant and the damage is huge.”

While there is no doubt that these visas are sometimes abused, this law doesn’t seem likely to prevent those abuses (see here and here), and sends a very unwelcoming message to Indian companies and foreign students and workers in general.  Whatever return the U.S. may get from this law, it will surely be outweighed by the loss of positive relations with one of the largest growing markets in the world.  From Boston.com again:
“I am saddened and disheartened,” Infosys chief executive S. Gopalakrishnan told India’s Economic Times on Tuesday. “When emerging economies are opening up, it’s unfortunate that countries like the U.S. are moving in the other direction.”
Indeed.
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