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Global economy to grow 3.5% in 2017: IMF

The IMF has predicted that the global economy would grow at 3.5% in 2017, up from 3.1 % last year, and 3.6% in 2018. This year’s projection of IMF is marginally higher than what was stated in their last update. The improvement in this year’s projection springs up from good economic news in Europe and Asia, notably from China and Japan. As per IMF, momentum in the global economy has been building up since the middle of the last year making it reaffirm its previous forecasts of higher growth for this year and next year.

However, it has warned that despite these signs of strength, many countries are likely to continue to struggle this year as well. IMF has warned that weather conditions and civil unrest would threaten the low-income countries with mass starvation. Particularly, in Sub-Saharan Africa, IMF expects the income levels to fall slightly. Further, commodity exporters in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are likely to struggle with low levels of commodity prices since early 2016.

Way forward

IMF has suggested that policy interventions must address these disparities to ensure the stability of an open, collaborative trading system that benefits all countries. It has called for the need of credible strategies in many countries to place public debt on a sustainable path. It has asked the World to make a renewed multilateral effort to tackle common challenges in an integrated global economy.

IMF

IMF came into existence on December 27, 1945. The IMF works to improve the economies of its member countries. IMF was established to promote international economic cooperation, international trade, employment, and exchange rate stability. It also makes its resources available to member countries to meet the balance of payments needs. Its headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

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Donald Trump signs executive order tightening H1-B visa programme

Donald Trump has signed an executive order to enforce and review the H-1B visa programme. He has ordered the country’s federal agencies to tighten the H-1B visa programme, widely used to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the US. This order is aimed at fulfilling his campaign pledges to put “America First”. In the document titled “Buy American and Hire American” order, Trump seeks to make modifications in government procurement that would give a push for purchases of American products in federal contracts. Earlier, Trump’s administration had rolled out policy shifts to clamp down on H-1B visa programme. It included a warning to employers not to discriminate against US workers.

The issue of executive order also reveals Trump’s heavy dependence on executive orders to fulfil his electoral promises. Till date, Trump has no major legislative achievements to boast of. His attempts to overhaul healthcare and tax law has not become successful so far in the Congress, controlled by his fellow Republicans.

Need

H-1B visa programme is accused of taking away jobs from Americans. Also, Trump wants a more merit-based way of giving visas to highly skilled workers instead of the present lottery system. In his new order, trump has asked agencies to propose ideas to direct visas to the most skilled and highly paid applicants without resorting to the lottery system. In fact, several bills have been proposed in Congress to end the lottery system.

Impact

The move is a deterrent to Indian IT companies which sends a huge number of software engineers to the US on H1-B visas. As per a report published by Bloomberg, companies like Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp and Mphasis Corp. would likely have fewer visas approved once the changes proposed by Trump are adopted.

H1-B Visas

The ‘H’ visas are for temporary workers. The H1B Visas are for foreign skilled workers in occupations that generally require higher education, including science, engineering or computer programming.

The H1B visas are given through a lottery system. Every year, the US government awards 65,000 H1B visas and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers.

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Australia abolishes 457 Visa Programme largely used by Indians

Australia has abolished the 457 Visa Programme used by thousands of temporary foreign workers, a majority of them Indians to address growing unemployment in that country. Instead, Australia wants to adopt ‘Australians first’ approach to skilled migration.

Since access to the skills is important for the growth and investment of that country’s businesses, it intends to replace the 457 visa programme by another visa programme, with new restrictions. The new temporary visa will be designed in such a way it will help in recruiting the best and brightest to fill critical skill gaps in the interest of that nation. The new visa will ensure that foreign workers are not brought into Australia just because it is easy for the employers to recruit a foreign worker than go to the trouble of hiring an Australian.

There are about 95,757 workers in Australia on primary 457 visa programme. Worryingly, the majority of the visa holders are from India followed by the UK and China. This announcement has come days after Prime Minister Turnbull visited India where a range of issues, including national security, counter-terrorism, education and energy, were discussed. Totally, six agreements were signed during his visit.

457 Visa

The 457 visa allows Australian employers to employ foreign workers for a period up to four years in skilled jobs where there is a shortage of Australian workers. The visa holders are eligible to bring family members, who have unrestricted work and study rights in Australia. The visa was introduced during the tenure of Prime Minister John Howard in 1996.

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