After US, Singapore is blocking visas of Indian IT professionals

This move has prompted the government to put on hold the review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) citing violation of the trade pact.

As US gets tough on H-1B visas, Singapore is the latest country which is seeking to restrict access to Indian professionals employed in the information technology sector.

Visas for IT professionals to work in Singapore have dropped "to a trickle", a report in TOI said. This move has prompted the government to put on hold the review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) citing violation of the trade pact.

Singapore authorities were insisting on the "economic needs test" (ENT), a functionality in trade terms which argues for compliance with certain economic criteria, to deny access to Indian professionals, the report said.

"This (visa problem) has been lingering for a while but since early-2016, visas are down to a trickle. All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people," Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar said.

In 2005, India had signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore. After the agreement, India's exports to Singapore increased from $4 billion in 2004-05 to $16.9 billion in 2011-12. However, the exports have seen a steep decline since then, going down to $ 7.7 billion in 2015-16.

Singapore received the highest outflow of Indian FDI and it is also the third largest foreign investor in India.