WTO welcomes TFA proposal: Sitharaman

World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo has welcomed India’s proposal for a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Services, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The proposed TFA in Services envisages, among other things, easier temporary movement of skilled workers, to boost global services trade. Ms. Sitharaman reiterated the proposal for a TFA in Services during the informal meeting of trade ministers from 25 WTO member countries on the sidelines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ministerial council meeting in Paris.

“Emphasised on working on Trade Facilitation in Services including Mode 4 (pertaining to temporary movement of natural persons including skilled workers) and DG WTO welcomed this proposal,” Ms. Sitharaman tweeted.

India had proposed the TFA in Services after the December 2015 WTO ministerial conference in Nairobi (Kenya). The proposed TFA in Services is on the lines of the WTO’s TFA on goods that is aimed at easing customs rules to expedite trade flows. India has already ratified the TFA on goods. Services account for over half of India's GDP.

Ms. Sitharaman also said she reiterated taking up of the remaining Doha Development Agenda (or DDA -- to improve the trade prospects of developing and poor nations) issues including agriculture before taking up of new issues at WTO. The remaining DDA issues include a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries to counter import surges of farm items and a permanent solution on public stockholding of food grains for food security purposes. The minister said she emphasised on setting timelines for working on SSM and permanent solution on public stock holding of food grains.

Ms. Sitharaman said she stressed the importance of maintaining the centrality of the development dimension in WTO, adding that most WTO member countries agreed with this view. She also laid emphasis on the need for implementing the WTO’s Bali and Nairobi Ministerial decisions. These issues will lay the foundation for the outcomes of the WTO Ministerial Conference in 2017, Sitharaman said.

The minister also met with European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and discussed issues including breaking the deadlock in the India-EU free trade agreement negotiations as well as renegotiation of bilateral investment treaties with EU member countries. She also held meeting with trade ministers of Canada and New Zealand on ways to boost India’s trade and investment ties with those countries. The minister also met OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 2:15:11 AM |

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