The Indian IT sector has faced a lot of trouble in the recent months. With increasing layoffs and troubles with the visa procedure, the sector has seen a slump in the growth. The sector has made a progress across different programs and areas. The IT sector is supporting half a million jobs in Asia Pacific nations that are currently in negotiations for a mega regional Free Trade Agreement. This is in addition to the sector accounting for 3.5 million jobs in India, which is also a part of the mega regional trade agreement. The agreement is officially known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which involves a total of 16 Asia Pacific countries.
The Indian IT industry which is already supporting so many jobs and investing billions of dollars in the RCEP region has been facing a host of problems due to the restrictions on the movement of professionals for short term work. The RCEP technical level negotiations were held between 18-28 July, in Hyderabad, where India made a strong pitch for the liberalization of the services, including norms to ease the temporary movement of professionals across the border. A report by Nasscom showed that the Indian IT sector supported 4.54 lakh jobs in 15 RCEP countries excluding India. Out of the 4.54 lakh jobs, 1.72 lakh or 38% were direct jobs while 62% were indirect jobs. Nasscom pointed out that the Indian IT sector was facing a lot of trouble due to the restriction of movement. This included trouble in getting visas (Singapore), lack of country wide validity of visas (China), job quotas (Indonesia), increase in the minimum salary levels for foreign short term workers (Singapore and Australia), mandatory police clearances and hike in visa costs (Australia) and the requirement of legalized marriage certificates (Philippines). The report also stated the troubles with the short term visa requirements. The irritants for business visa travellers included the requirement of a minimum bank balance (Philippines), requirement of the original invite letter with a certificate of the incorporation of the invitee (Japan), mandatory work permit for stay of over 15 days (Indonesia) and very short duration single entry visas (China).
Based on the suggestion of the Indian IT industry regarding the broad contours of the RCEP visa work permit, Nasscom said the visa or work permit should be given to skilled resources for short duration, which is about 3 to 5 years, for all the intra company related movement. There should also be a fast track immigration clearance and an easier expat registration.
The conditions about caps, quotas, levies and charges should be removed. In addition, onerous measures such as certifications from end customers should also be done away with. Also there should not be any requirement of contribution to host the social security regime if the applicant shows proof of continuing association with the home country regime. With a quick process and easy visa regulations, the IT sector could thrive across the 16 Asia Pacific countries.