India will pitch for a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) in services at the WTO and other bilateral free trade pacts as the sector has huge potential and it contributes significantly to the country’s economy.
India is already pushing hard for a comprehensive trade pact in the services sector, a key area of interest for the country, in the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations including with the European Union and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
“After doing TFA in goods at the World Trade Organization, we do intend to take TFA in services to the WTO,” a senior Commerce Ministry official said. TFA in services means liberalised visa regime such as multiple entry visas, visa-free travel for foreign tourists and long term visas for business community.
“We want to steer the debate here on this issue because the future trade will happen in services. Mode 4 (movement of professionals) is very important,” the official said.
The Commerce Ministry is holding consultations with stakeholders on the matter and several experts and industry people are in favour of such agreements.
“In RCEP negotiations too we have clearly stated that India wants a comprehensive agreement in goods, services and investments. India has decided that it would be now aggressive in demanding freer movement of people because it is in the interest of India and the world,” said the official.
India is very strong in the services area as the sector contributes over 50 per cent in the country’s economic growth. To boost services exports, the ministry is already working on some reform measures in sectors including education and legal.