India’s concept note for a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) in services evoked good response during a meeting of a WTO members’ panel in Geneva earlier this week.
On the lines of TFA in goods, India is pitching for a similar pact in services with a view to reduce transaction costs by doing away with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services.
“WTO members debated new proposals to ease global flow of services. Brazil described the proposal as interesting and thought-provoking while Chinese Taipei said it was very interesting and creative,” a Geneva-based trade official said.
WTO members discussed the Indian proposal for an agreement to ease global services trade aiming at reducing bottlenecks that services suppliers face abroad.
These include high visa application fees, lack of transparency and lack of access to social security.
The proposal builds upon the TFA in goods, which aims to streamline customs procedures to cut the time and cost involved in moving goods across borders.
While members are still reviewing the paper, the official said several delegations questioned India on the implications on members’ domestic regulations and the expected benefits for developing and developed members alike, which for the TFA for goods were manifest and well-documented.
However, Canada and the US stated that the proposal touched upon sensitive issues, which for Canada were public education and health services.
India’s new concept paper assumes significance as the services sector contributes significantly to the economies of developing nations.
Services sector contributes about 60 per cent to India’s economy and 28 per cent to 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 World Trade Organisation (WTO).