Indian IT supports 4.5 lakh RCEP jobs

Chase Xero
Indian IT-Business Process Management (BPM) sector is supporting close to half a million jobs in 15 Asia-Pacific nations that are in negotiations for a mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

This is in addition to the sector accounting for 3.5 million jobs in India — which is also part of the proposed mega FTA, officially known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involving, thereby, a total of 16 Asia-Pacific countries.

However, the Indian IT-BPM industry — despite supporting so many jobs and investing billions of (U.S.) dollars in the RCEP region – has been facing a host of problems, including restrictions on movement of professionals for short-term work, according to industry body Nasscom.

This was stated by Nasscom in a presentation made by its senior director (global trade development), Gagan Sabharwal on July 25 before a gathering of the RCEP industry groups. The trade negotiators were later shown some highlights of the presentation.

The RCEP technical-level negotiations were held during July 18-28 in Hyderabad, where India made a strong pitch for liberalisation of services, including norms to ease temporary movement of professionals across borders.

The Nasscom presentation showed the Indian IT-BPM sector supported 4.54 lakh jobs in 15 RCEP countries (excluding India) and made investments worth “several thousand millions of (U.S.) dollars across the (RCEP) region.”

Of the 4.54 lakh jobs, 1.72 lakh (or about 38%) were direct jobs while 2.82 lakh (or about 62%) were indirect jobs.

‘Several restrictions’

Nasscom, however, pointed out the Indian IT-BPM sector was subjected to several restrictions in the RCEP region on temporary movement of professionals.

These included trouble in getting visas (Singapore), increase in minimum salary levels for foreign short-term workers (Singapore and Australia), mandatory police clearances and hike in visa costs (Australia), lack of country-wide validity of visas (China), job quotas (Indonesia), requirement of legalised marriage certificates (Philippines).

It further said the “irritants” for business visa travellers included the requirement of minimum bank balance (Philippines), very short-duration single entry visas (China), requirement of original invite letter with certificate of incorporation of the invitee (Japan), mandatory work permit for stay of over 15 days (Indonesia).

On the suggestions from the Indian IT-BPM industry regarding the broad contours of an “RCEP Services Visa / Work Permit’, Nasscom said visa or work permit should be given to skilled resources for short duration (up to 3-5 years) for all intra-company related movement. There should be time-bound fast-track immigration clearance and easier expat registration, it said.

There should be no conditions including caps, quotas, levies and charges, it said, and argued against onerous measures such as certifications from end-consumer.

Also, there should not be any requirement of contribution to the host social security regime if the applicant shows proof of continuing association with the home country regime, the apex body said.

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