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India wants easier availibilty of visas
May, 28th 2008

Even as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) released the proposed guidelines to open up the services markets, India wants easier availability of visas for its professionals to provide services in developed countries.

Chairman of the WTO Council for Trade in Services, Fernando de Mateo, released a report on services on May 26. He has asked member countries to commit market access in sectors where at present many trade barriers exist. Draft texts on agriculture and non agricultural market access have already been released.

Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai today said the services report has put a lot of topics of India's interest in square brackets, which means that there is no consensus on the issue. "Mode 1 and mode 4 services market access issues have been put in square brackets. More over, the report does not say much about issues like domestic regulation, which is extremely important for liberalisation of service sector trade to succeed," Pillai said at a Ficci seminar.

Mode 1 trade in services is related to cross border supply of services like international phone calls, while mode 4 deals with professionals traveling abroad to supply services. India has great interests in these two modes as it pertains to its the infotech sector amongst others.

Outlining the importance of Mode 4, Pillai said: "We do not want immigration. Indian firms winning contracts abroad need to send their professionals to execute them. We want to ensure that visas to such professionals do not get denied".

Pillai also said that in many developed countries, which claim to be open to business houses from abroad, have stringent domestic regulation norms. "As a result, it becomes extremely difficult for overseas firms to set up base in such countries".

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