The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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WTO request list to be ready soon

New Delhi, Nov. 1: The working group set up to suggest a negotiation strategy in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the services sector, particularly accountancy, met here today to take note of its second report submitted in mid-October.

“The group will now finalise the recommendations on autonomous liberalisation under GATS (general agreement on trade in services),” group chairman Sunil Bhargava told The Telegraph after the meeting.

The panel, constituted by the department of company affairs (DCA), will also formalise its views on the “request list”—a document detailing the liberalisation measures that the country’s trading partners want India to adopt—received from about 22 WTO members. These include the major trading blocs of the EU, the US and China. India has also submitted its request lists to about 33 countries.

The recommendations formalised after today’s meeting will form part of the third report of the working group, which will be submitted to the government on March 31 2003. However, Bhargava refused to divulge the suggestions made by other countries on grounds of ‘confidentiality’.

The second report of the group made recommendations pertaining to the services sector, on the need to ensure Emergency Safeguard Measures (ESM) as part of the rules of fair trade in the services sector, in case of a surge in import of services.

“The group was formed primarily for the accountancy sector, but has also made recommendations for the larger services sector of which it is a part. If there is a surge in the import of services, it is imperative to protect the domestic services industry,” Bhargava said

“In such a scenario, ESM measures are required to initiate all possible action to restrict and regulate commercial presence of foreign entities providing services,” he added.

The recommendation of the working group in the second report suggests a kind of special and differential treatment for various members. This means that developing countries can export up to 5 per cent of the market size in a developed country. However, exports by a developed country like the US to a developing or a least developed country (LDC) will be limited to 1 per cent of the market size.

Bhargava is also a government nominee on the council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). Other member of the group include joint secretary, DCA, director in the ministry of commerce, Bar Council of India, the three chambers of Ficci, CII and Assocham, ICAI, Institute of Cost and Work Accountants of India (ICWAI) and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).

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