New Delhi, Oct. 3: India is in the process of preparing its requests on agreements relating to the service sector—including tourism, architecture, computer-related services and audio visual services—as part of the negotiations on trade and services now underway under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The WTO negotiations since the Doha ministerial meeting have entered a crucial market access phase, with member nations rushing to meet a deadline for filing initial requests and offers. The last date to finalise the acceptance of these requests and present an offer is March 31 next year. The government has received 15 requests from the developed countries like the US, EU, Canada and Switzerland, across all the 16 services sectors.
Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop organised by Ficci on WTO negotiations on trade in services, R. Gopalan, joint secretary in the department of commerce, said, “A request regarding accountancy will be finalised very soon. We are right now targeting the OECD, Far East, West Asia and Africa for bilateral negotiations in the above mentioned sectors”.
While emphasising on the movement of natural persons, Gopalan said India has already stated its views in the international forum. “Rules not related to immigration must be must be considered as free movement of natural persons. He added that the timeframe to stay abroad should not be fixed but should be project-based. The commerce ministry has of now, not been able to form any final view regarding the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). “Talks are on between the home and commerce ministries. A final decision will be taken very soon.”
Hamid Mamdouh, director, trade in services division of the WTO said that “to increase the share of services export by developing countries to export countries in the international service market, developed countries should be ready to bear a bigger burden”.
Highlighting the aspect of the expansion of the services sector, Mamdouh said this does not merely mean increasing exports of services but also at addressing issues like anti-competitive practices and market failure in the service sector.
Regarding the issue of regulatory framework, Mamdouh said, “If any changes are made in the regulatory framework by any member country, then the WTO must be informed”.
Each member country should have an appeal system to fight any differential treatment in the country it is trading in. In such cases, the dispute settlement court will decide the matter, he added.