India wants early conclusion of the totalisation agreement or Social Security Agreement with the US.
India on Tuesday pressed for setting up a high-level committee to look into a range of issues including American Totalisation and non-tariff barrier, as also the Social Security Act that discriminates Indians working in the US. Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia flagged these issues during her meeting with US Deputy USTR Ambassador Robert Holleyman here. She highlighted the “need for setting up a High Level Group to discuss India”s concerns on US Totalisation and Social Security Act (how the policy was discriminatory towards Indian worker’s in the US who ended up losing their social security contributions due to discrepancy in the visa and social security regimes, also indicating recourse to legal remedies),” an official statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Teaotia also raised the issue of high visa costs in the US which is impacting Indian IT professionals working there. Market Access issues of agrarian products including rice, mangoes, pomegranates and table grapes also figured in the discussion, it said. It also said that US Department of Labour listing of textile products is acting as a non-tariff barrier and has impacted exports of certain textile products to the US. “…(it) is applicable only to countries that are not signatory to the Government Procurement Agreement,” it said. The commerce secretary also suggested a separate working group to discuss the issue of market access for Indian pharmaceuticals and traditional AYUSH pharmacopeia and professionals. India wants early conclusion of the totalisation agreement or Social Security Agreement with the US. It aims to protect interests of professionals of Indian-origin who contribute more than US $1 billion each year to the US social security. Under this pact, professionals of both the countries would be exempted from social security taxes when they go to work for a short period in the other country. On the other hand, the Deputy USTR proposed a range of issues for collaboration on standards and manufacturing. Holleyman is here for an inter-ministerial discussion to deliberate on the agenda setting, modalities and dates for convening the next round of the ministerial level meeting of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in the US, by the end of October. The issues that are likely to be taken up for discussion at the next TPF meeting from both sides were also deliberated at length, it said. US side has been requested for issue specific details for consideration under the TPF, it said adding WTO Issues and Trade Facilitation issues were also discussed briefly. The US-India TPF is an inter-agency collaboration led by the USTR. It is the principal trade dialogue between the countries. It has five focus groups: Agriculture, Investment, Innovation and Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services, and Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers. At present, bilateral trade is US $64.26 billion in 2014-15. Also Read: 90,000 Indian students apply for US visa, 4,000 make the cut
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