India to seek help for services pact at UN

Background: Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), World Trade Organisation (WTO), Nairobi ministerial meeting of the WTO, UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD).

  • India will press for endorsement by more nations for its proposal on a global pact to expedite the services trade flow, during the forthcoming Nairobi meet of the United Nations body for development issues including on trade.
  • Among other things, the proposed pact is aimed at making it easier for services professionals and skilled workers to move across borders for short-term projects.
  • It will officially be known as the TFA for Services at the WTO-level. Its objectives include streamlining procedures for global services trade, besides ensuring recognition at the WTO-level for services as a tradable item by establishing a framework for clarity on definitions and for settlement of disputes.
  • The July 17-22 Nairobi meet will be the UNCTAD’s 14th quadrennial Ministerial Conference. The Ministerial Conference is the Geneva-headquartered UNCTAD’s highest decision-making body, and is held every four years ever since UNCTAD was set up in 1964.
  • UNCTAD has 194 member States and is the UN subsidiary looking at measures to boost trade and investment in developing countries.
  • India had announced an upcoming proposal to work on developing a TFA for Services. The global trade body said several WTO members welcomed India’s announcement
  • The UNCTAD Ministerial Conference at Nairobi will on July 21 have special session on Global Services Forum, where there will be discussions on trade facilitation in services with panellists including Indian commerce secretary Rita Teaotia and others from countries such as China and Jordan.
  • According to UNCTAD, the Global Services Forum will discuss various topics including facilitating trade in services – with a focus on reducing transaction costs and explore if the lessons resulting from the WTO TFA (for Goods) could be applied to trade in services. Questions to be addressed will include steps to be taken in the WTO and regional trade agreements to facilitate trade in services.

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