‘Legally vetted’ pact on services tabled at WTO

India on Thursday said it has submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a legally vetted proposal on a global services pact, that among other things, aims to ease norms for movement of skilled workers across borders for short-term work.

The proposal for a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement will be taken up by an expert committee at the WTO headquarters in Geneva during March 14-17, following which it will be put up for discussion among all the WTO members, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Ms. Sitharaman said: “We have submitted the legally vetted paper (on TFS) in Geneva. Till March 17, only the Council for Trade in Services members will be privy to it. After that we will take it up for discussion with all the WTO member countries to build awareness.”

According to official sources, the proposed pact also aims to ensure portability of social security contributions, a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals and cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism. In October 2016, India had tabled a concept note on the proposed TFS at the WTO and followed it up with a paper on its possible elements in November 2016, Ms. Sitharaman said. The TFS proposal is on the lines of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods. According to India, 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.”

Meanwhile, the TFA in Goods — adopted by the WTO Members in 2014 — entered into force on Wednesday.

According to the WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, the TFA in Goods aims to streamline, simplify and standardise customs procedures. By doing so, it will help to cut trade costs around the world, he said in a statement.

TFA in goods

“By 2030 the (TFA in Goods) Agreement could add 2.7% points per year to world trade growth and more than half a percentage point per year to world GDP growth. This impact would be greater than the elimination of all existing tariffs around the world,” he said. India has already ratified the TFA in Goods.

Ms. Sitharaman said: “It will lead to effective functioning of ports and reduce transaction costs. Logistics will improve, goods will move faster. Besides, since all the ports will be connected electronically, we will have export and import data on a real time basis.”

Turning to other issues, Ms. Sitharaman said there was no need to be alarmed about the recent reports on layoffs in the e-commerce industry.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2022 9:03:31 pm |