Recently, the U.S. Coalition of Services Industries--a group that includes EDS, IBM, and Microsoft--teamed up with India's NASSCOM and several other global services organizations to jointly express frustration with the Doha process. "Once again, progress in services--which represent the greatest share of economic output in both developed and developing countries--is being prevented by WTO members' lack of political will to reach agreement in agriculture and goods," the group said in a joint statement.
The stakes are high. Congress thus far has resisted the many cries from within the U.S. by unions and some media commentators to impose limits on offshore outsourcing. But for how long can it keep up that resistance if India itself continues to ignore U.S. requests for greater market access?
I recently spoke with an IT exec at Continental Airlines who was frustrated by India's burdensome trade regulations. Continental wanted to route customer calls to its Delhi base made from within India to a service center in the U.S.--kind of a reverse BPO.
No can do, said the Indian government. Customer calls originating from within India must be handled by Indian workers. Meanwhile, Indian BPO staffers handle millions of calls per day that originate in the U.S. That doesn't sound like fair trade, does it?