India floats concept note for trade facilitation in services

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New Delhi | Published: September 29, 2016 6:01:56 PM

Pitching for a trade facilitation agreement in services in WTO, India has floated a concept note saying the pact will reduce transaction costs by doing away with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services.

India is making the case for this pact in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in goods, signed by WTO in 2014. It aims at expediting movement, release and clearance of goods as well as co-operation on customs compliance issues. (Reuters)India is making the case for this pact in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in goods, signed by WTO in 2014. It aims at expediting movement, release and clearance of goods as well as co-operation on customs compliance issues. (Reuters)

Pitching for a trade facilitation agreement in services in WTO, India has floated a concept note saying the pact will reduce transaction costs by doing away with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services.

Circulating the note to the WTO members for an initiative on trade facilitation in services, India has proposed simplification of procedures and clarity in work permits and visas for smooth movement of professionals.

India is making the case for this pact in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in goods, signed by WTO in 2014. It aims at expediting movement, release and clearance of goods as well as co-operation on customs compliance issues.

“There is need for a counterpart agreement in services, an Agreement on Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS Agreement), which can result in reduction of transaction costs associated with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services,” India’s concept note said.

It said the TFS Agreement will address the key issues that are pertinent to facilitating trade in services, such as transparency, streamlining procedures, and eliminating bottlenecks.

“The TFS Agreement could be based on the TFA in goods, with suitable modification and adaptation to the services context, as required,” it said.

Enlisting issues related with all kinds of services, the note said: “facilitation of supply of Mode 4 services (movement of professionals) through simplification of procedures for temporary entry and stay, and clarity in respect of work permits and visas as relevant for the categories of the Mode 4 commitments”.

It said there is a need to look at the disciplines on measures relating to taxation, fees/charges, discriminatory salary requirements, social security contributions in relation to temporary entry in order to ensure that these do not unfairly disadvantage foreign service suppliers.

“India firmly believes that like the TFA, a well-structured TFS will significantly enhance the potential for trade in services for all Members,” it added.

This concept note requires careful deliberation to enable the development of a framework that can effectively address the main concerns of all WTO members, it said.

India has sought comments and suggestions from all the members on this note.

Services sector contributes about 60 per cent to India’s economy and 28 per cent in the total employment.

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