India hits out at US protectionist tendency

India opposed protectionist measures built into the US multi-billion corporate bailout package.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published:February 20, 2009 2:09 pm

India opposed protectionist measures built into the US government’s multi-billion corporate bailout package,saying these were “worrying signs” from the world’s biggest economy.

“We are already witnessing worrying signs of protectionism in the world’s biggest economy. We need to argue against this trend at the international fora,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said inaugurating the 42nd Indian Labour Conference.

He was apparently referring to the Washington’s bar on firms receiving bailout money from hiring foreign workers if they are to replace Americans at work.

Industry estimates suggest nearly 100,000 Indians were among the 163,000 that had applied for non-immigrant skilled workers visa (H1-B) in FY’09. The US has capped the number of H1-B visas at 65,000 a year.

The bailout-condition could affect Indian skilled workers.

In the wake of the global financial meltdown,Mukherjee said,”We will need to press for trade and aid flows to developing countries and look at regional cooperation to strengthen defences against such crises”.

Mukherjee said there was a need to invest more in infrastructure,provide adequate credit support to the poorer sections of the society and create better facilities for upgrading skills and re-skilling of the workforce.

“Our government is making all efforts to ensure flow of credit to consumption,trade and investment,and stimulating additional demand through public and private expenditure and investment,” Mukherjee said.

He said the government’s response to the crisis has been swift and recent developments show that the benefits were trickling down.

“Global crisis requires a global response and India is playing its own role in fashioning it,” he said.

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