India to pitch global services accord to WTO chief Azevêdo
India was expected to make a presentation on Thursday to World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo and India Inc. on New Delhi’s proposal for a global pact to boost services trade.
The proposed Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement at the WTO-level aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers / professionals across borders for short-term work.
Among the objectives of the proposed pact, official sources said, is ensuring portability of social security contributions, as well as making sure fees or charges for immigration or visas are reasonable, transparent, and non-restrictive (or impairing the supply of services) in nature.
It also aims to pave the way for a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals.
Besides, the proposal is to ensure cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism, publication of measures impacting services trade and timely availability of relevant information in all the WTO official languages as well as free flow of data/information for cross-border supply of services.
The presentation is slated to be made by two senior Commerce Ministry officials at a Confederation of Indian Industry-event, the sources said.
TFS vs TFA pact
They said the officials will stress that the TFS Agreement will be “meaningful only if it has comprehensive scope and covers measures across all modes of supply (for services delivery in cross-border trade), relating to entry into the market as well as those applied post-entry.”
The sources said the presentation, however, will specify that the proposed services pact is similar to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods adopted by the WTO Members in 2014 to ease customs norms for boosting global goods trade.
The proposed TFS pact is also about ‘facilitation’ – that is “making market access ‘effective’ and commercially meaningful and not about ‘new’ (or greater) market access.”
World Bank data shows the growing share of services in the world economy, the sources said, adding, however, that global trade flows in services remain subject to numerous border and behind-the-border barriers.