In­dia to Pitch for Global Pact on Easy Work Travel

Com­merce min­istry to seek sup­port at G-20 and BRICS for its Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion in Ser­vices pa­per

The Economic Times - - Economy: Macro, Micro & More - Kir­tika.Suneja@ times­group.com

New Delhi: In­dia will make a pitch for a global agree­ment to make it eas­ier to travel for work across bor­ders at in­ter­na­tional fora like the G-20 and BRICS even as in­creas­ing pro­tec­tion­ism in the West has un­set­tled the coun­try’s ser­vices in­dus­try. The com­merce min­istry plans to reach out to other coun­tries and get po­ten­tial part­ners to sup­port its pro­posed pa­per on Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion in Ser­vices (TFS) that seeks to re­move un­nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions on trade in ser­vices, a min­istry of­fi­cial said. “G-20 (Group of 20 ma­jor economies) and BRICS (as­so­ci­a­tion of emerg­ing economies of Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa) are the right fora to build ad­van­tage of coali­tions,” the of­fi­cial said.

Ser­vices sec­tor ac­counts for about 60% in the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) and 28% of to­tal em­ploy­ment.

In­dian IT in­dus­try — which gets 62% of its rev­enues from the US — is un­der pres­sure from Wash­ing­ton's’ in­creas­ingly pro­tec­tion­ist stance on out­sourc­ing work amid ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment in the US. Hence New Delhi’s bid to gar­ner in­ter­na­tional sup­port for free move­ment of pro­fes­sion­als. The com­merce min­istry along with the World Bank plans to hold a work­shop on TFS next month to sup­port aware­ness build­ing and bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the is­sue.

"Of­fi­cials from the OECD will also be part of the work­shop," said a per­son aware of the pro­gramme.

The min­istry has al­ready or­gan­ised two sets of sem­i­nars with in­dus­try cham­bers to gar­ner sup­port for its pro­posal.

In­dia had sub­mit­ted the con­cept note on re­duc­ing reg­u­la­tions in­volved in trade in ser­vices in Septem­ber last year to the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO). The note is cur­rently be­ing le­gally vet­ted.

In­dia wants TFS to be part of the WTO min­is­te­rial meet­ing in Ar­gentina in De­cem­ber. In­ci­den­tally, Ar­gentina will also chair the G-20 sum­mit in 2018.

Build­ing Con­sen­sus

Com­merce min­istry along with the World Bank plans to hold a work­shop on Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion in Ser­vices next month

In­dia’s pro­posal en­vis­ages a lib­er­alised visa regime with mul­ti­ple en­try visas, visa-free travel for for­eign tourists and long-term visas for busi­ness com­mu­nity, among other things.

“The le­gally vet­ted pa­per will be out any­time. We should al­low the process to go rather than be afraid of what comes on the ta­ble. Let the re­ac­tions hap­pen,” the com­merce min­istry of­fi­cial said. The BRICS coun­tries have been de­lib­er­at­ing co­op­er­a­tion on the ser­vices sta­tis­tics and also areas of co­op­er­a­tion on trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion in ser­vices. WTO Direc­tor Gen­eral Roberto Azevedo on his visit to In­dia had said that the pro­posal needs dis­cus­sion and that In­dia only can get other coun­tries in­ter­ested in its pro­posal.

The last time In­dia had used in­ter­na­tional plat­forms was to ad­vo­cate its stance on pub­lic stock­hold­ing for food se­cu­rity pur­pose.

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