India’s proposal on services trade gets mixed response at WTO

India’s proposal on services trade gets mixed response at WTO

India had circulated the proposed draft on TFA in Services at WTO in February.

The Dollar Business Bureau

India’s proposal on Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Services at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has got mixed response from the member nations, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has informed the Parliament.

India had circulated the proposed draft text on the TFA in Services at WTO in February this year.

The draft has been discussed at relevant bodies of the WTO, said Sitharaman said in a written response to the Rajya Sabha.

The proposal offers an outline for addressing various barriers to trade in services in a holistic and comprehensive manner, she said.

“India’s proposal received a mixed response from the WTO members. Some members appreciated India’s proposal as being comprehensive in scope and well balanced,” the Minister said.

“However, various developing and developed member countries expressed concerns on the content and scope of the agreement’s draft,” she said.

The draft has provided the much-needed impetus to the discussion on trade in services and New Delhi has urged member nations to constructively engage on this proposal.

India has proposed multiple-entry visa system for those who fulfil the host nation’s criteria for immigration in a comprehensive draft on movement of services between the countries, and requested the nations to have faith in the companies, which are employing workers, for judging their competence, as it seems to create a worldwide consensus on the cross-border workers.

In addition, it asks for cross-border transferring of information such as personal information through electronic medium in order to boost the services supply among several nations, which the African group understood as e-commerce. 

In reply to a separate question, the Minister said that an association of America’s pharmaceutical manufacturers has asked the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to continue keeping India on the Priority Watch List under the Special 301 Report.

Issued by the US, the Special 301 Report is a ‘unilateral measure’ for creating pressure on nations to augment protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) beyond the WTO regulations.

Under the WTO rules, disputes between two member nations are required to be referred to the Organisation’s dispute settlement body and any unilateral action is not acceptable under the regime, she said.

“Special 301 is an extra territorial application of the domestic law of a country, which is inconsistent with the established norms of the WTO,” she added.