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  • By GA WEB TEAM / In GA GROUP in NEWS / Apr 21, 2017.


India is asking its trade partners within WTO and outside to consider negotiating a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) in services as the sector has huge potential, a senior government official said today.

Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce Arvind Mehta said the WTO has already missed an opportunity to put some elements of services while hammering the TFA in goods.

“Whether the countries collectively will get back into the negotiating arena within the WTO to look at TFA in services is a moot point, but certainly India has been nudging partners saying that it is an important issue and we say this in the RCEP also,” he said at a Ficci function here.

India is already pushing hard to include services in all its comprehensive trade pacts. The services sector is a key area of interest for the country. It is pushing hard in the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations including with the European Union and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Mehta said that within WTO and outside if one wants to have a comprehensive economic partnership, “please do not reduce the negotiations into a pillar of goods” and do not ignore the possibility of good outcomes in services specially in the movement of professionals.

Talking about RCEP, he said India is negotiating this mega trade deal with the objective that if there is a trade architecture that has to be evolved outside WTO, “you will have to play in the negotiating rooms”.

Initially India was not interested in getting into the plurilateral pacts but over the time the government realised that various countries who try to write the trade agenda outside the WTO and if India has to become an active player in the writing of this agenda, then it will have to negotiate that because “if you are on the sidelines you cannot influence,” he added.

The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six free trade agreement partners — India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh in November 2012. The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world’s economy, estimated to be more than USD 75 trillion.

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