NEW DELHI, Sept 7 India will present proposals
to the World Trade Organization on ways to ease trade in
services, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on
Wednesday, as Asia's third-largest economy seeks to leverage one
of its competitive strengths.
India cleared the way for a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
covering goods in 2014, after tortuous talks in which it won a
concession letting it stockpile strategic food reserves for its
mostly poor population of 1.3 billion people.
New Delhi has often dragged its feet in the multilateral
arena and been reluctant to cut bilateral free-trade deals
because experience has shown its goods sector often cannot
compete on international markets.
By contrast, India's services sector, including back-office
operations for multinationals, is a big export earner and the
idea of striking a similar multilateral deal on services first
came up at a meeting of trade ministers in Paris in June.
"While there seems to be trade facilitation for goods, there
doesn't seem to be trade facilitation for services, and that was
a point I made in Paris," Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
told reporters at a business conference in New Delhi.
"This is a matter on which the WTO will now have to work,"
said Sitharaman, speaking on the sidelines of the Economist
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for freer trade in
services at the recent Group of 20 summit hosted by China and,
Sitharaman said, India will soon submit a paper to the WTO as
requested at the Paris meeting.
Modi told the G20 grouping that a knowledge and
innovation-driven economy required free movement of professional
Restrictions on the admission of Indian IT experts have been
one area of concern between the United States and India, and
figured in recent two-way strategic and commercial talks.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)