WTO: negotiating position on services being finetuned

New Delhi, Nov 14 | Updated: Nov 15 2005, 05:30am hrs
In a bid to finalise its negotiating position in the WTO for the services sector, the government is taking inputs from ministries concerned to strengthen policy coordination across service sectors.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (Icrier), commerce secretary SN Menon said, In order to address the issue of inter-ministerial coordination, the negotiating policy will be framed after presentations have been made on a sector-by-sector basis by the concerned ministries to the committee of secretaries. Speaking on the Indo-Singaporean agreement, he said that India fought for stringent rules of origin (ROO).

We are testing waters. In services, the agreement covers four areas, out of which, excepting education, other sectors like telecom, finance and audio visuals, the agreement would expire after four years. We went for it as we are hopeful that by the end of 2007, an agreement is reached at WTO.

Negotiations with respect to services have taken a new turn as quantitative benchmarks have been included in the guidelines for negotiations in services for the first time. There has been an attempt to change the system of negotiations, said Mr Menon.

According to trade experts, India is playing a proactive role in the negotiations, but it cannot ignore growing trade potential for sectors such as information technology, education and health. In service sectors, India should review its own commitments to ensure that market access barriers or barriers due to domestic regulations in one sector do not adversely affect trade in the other. Also, appropriate domestic reforms should support multilateral negotiations.

Trade analysts were also of the view that raising anti-dumping margins will not help in reducing the number of anti-dumping cases. The country should focus on de minimis import shares, they said.