The first meeting of a WTO panel to discuss the new concept paper floated by India on a proposed trade facilitation agreement in services will be held on October 6 in Geneva. India is pitching for this agreement with a view to reduce transaction costs by doing away with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services.
“The Indian concept paper will be discussed at a meeting of the WTO’s working party on domestic regulation on October 6,” an official said. The country’s move assumes significance as the services sector contributes significantly in the economies of developing nations.
Services sector contributes about 60 per cent to India’s economy and 28 per cent in the total employment. With the growing importance of the sector, India has time and again pitched for liberalisation and streamlining of norms for the sector in the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In its concept note, India has proposed for simplification of procedures and clarity in work permits and visas for smooth movement of professionals. India is making the case for this pact in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in goods, signed by WTO in 2014, which aims at expediting movement, release and clearance of goods as well as co-operation on customs compliance issues.
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“There is need for a counterpart agreement in services, an Agreement on Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS Agreement), which can result in reduction of transaction costs associated with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services,” India’s concept note has stated.
It said there is a need to look at the disciplines on measures relating to taxation, fees/charges, discriminatory salary requirements, social security contributions in relation to temporary entry in order to ensure that these do not unfairly disadvantage foreign service suppliers.
India has sought comments and suggestions from all the WTO members on this note. The 164-member body makes rules for global trade.