- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

NEW DELHI — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told India yesterday that outsourcing of U.S. jobs will continue, but he urged to the world’s second most populous nation to create more opportunities for American companies to compensate for job losses in the United States.

“Outsourcing is a reality of the 21st-century global environment — outsourcing and insourcing,” Mr. Powell told reporters after a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha in New Delhi.

“While we have outsourced some positions to India, there are opportunities for Americans as well to service Indian needs, and we hope that India understands the need for reforms,” he said.

Mr. Powell’s call for trade liberalization received a measured response from Mr. Sinha, who acknowledged the necessity for open markets but rejected the notion of acting under foreign pressure.

“It is in the interests of India to integrate with the rest of the world economy,” he said. “It should not be seen in the context of pressure and counterpressure.”

The minister also said India “will not allow this or any other issue to create any misunderstanding” with the United States.

The secretary pointed out that market reforms in India will help offset the negative effects of outsourcing, but Washington is not seeking any quid pro quo. He also noted that the number of American jobs lost to India — fewer than 200,000 by rough U.S. estimates — is small relative to the size of the U.S. economy.

Outsourcing, which is practiced by some of the biggest U.S. companies attracted to low wages in developing countries, has become a major issue in this year’s presidential election campaign.

A Senate bill banning government contractors from shipping jobs overseas is awaiting President Bush’s signature.

“People without jobs are a political issue,” Mr. Powell told Indian youths during the taping of a television program on NDTV channel, to be broadcast Saturday.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has been running TV ads promising to “crack down on the export of American jobs.”

Mr. Powell yesterday joined many of his fellow Republicans in deriding Mr. Kerry’s “flip-flops” on various issues.

“I’m not sure what his views are from day to day” on outsourcing, Mr. Powell said.

He also discussed with Mr. Sinha the idea of India’s joining the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was proposed by Mr. Bush last year as an international effort to seize shipments of weapons of mass destruction materials on the high seas from rogue states such as North Korea.

India was the first stop during the secretary’s three-nation tour of South Asia, which began Monday. He leaves for Pakistan this morning and will visit Afghanistan later in the week.

This is his first trip to the region since India and Pakistan moved to the brink of war in 2002.

The two nuclear rivals announced a thaw in their relations in January and since have increased their cooperation in different areas. They fought three of four wars since independence from Britain in 1947 over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Mr. Powell said that movement of Islamic militants into Indian Kashmir “is down significantly” but that it should come to a permanent end.

“It’s important that this kind of activity not only be something for the winter season, but it really has to be of a more permanent nature, in order for us to see the kind of progress that we are hoping for,” he said.

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