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US to take up social security agreement with India

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Dec 4 (UNI) The United States will take up the issue of Totalisation Agreement with India next week so that Indians working in the US get the social security benefits for which they pay in the US when they return back home, US Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L Lavin said today.

Pointing out that the US has approved opening a consulate in Hyderabad to facilitate doing business in the state, Mr Lavin said one of the notable recent successes has been speeding up visa procedures for Indians wanting to do business in the US.

''We issued 50 per cent more visas this year compared to last year and the waiting time has been reduced to just one week,'' he said at a session organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

''We have consistently said companies have to be serious about doing business with India on a standalone basis. It's not a question of whether to invest in India or Brazil or China, but a necessity.

We want to make it easier to do business with India,'' said Mr Lavin, who is heading the largest-ever delegation of 250 companies to India.

However, several challenges continue to dog American attempts to step up business engagement with India. The caps on foreign investment in several sectors including banking, insurance, pension, telecommunications and retail hindered higher flows of FDI into India.

The average tariff rates remained high compared to the rest of the world, at 34 per cent. Indian patent and copyright laws were outdated. These have to be amended to bring them up-to-date and a strong regulatory framework should be put in place to reward innovation.

Other issues included postal service reforms to allow international postal companies easier access to Indian destinations and liberalising the regulations governing medical devices.

''India produces quality cultural intellectual content but this does not have the intellectual protection that will facilitate global distribution,'' he said.

He said several initiatives have resulted in greater Indo-US business cooperation. These include the open skies agreement in civil aviation as a result of which passenger traffic has increased 60 per cent in the last one year. Tariffs on industrial goods have also come down substantially.

India has also raised the investment caps in the retail. It has also liberalised the entry of foreign education institutes that will help US universities and institutes set up campuses in India. This will help India meet its requirements for human resources in the near future.


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