India’s visa receive setback at WTO

NEW DELHI: India’s move to have a global agreement for facilitating trade in services, aimed at making the India’s visa regime for technology professionals and nurses more predictable received a setback at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as members do not see an outcome at the ministerial meeting in Argentina in December.

Sources said at a recent meeting, European Union -which is pitching for a similar international framework for online services transactions -was also told that the issue is not ripe for discussion at the biennial meeting of WTO’s top decision-making body. The twin decisions came even as India pitched for a decision on its demands related to a permanent solution on stockholding of foodgrain, that impacts its public procurement programme.

WTO members are still far apart on a permanent solution for public stockholding for food security purposes and a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries that will allow countries like India to impose higher duties in case of an import surge.

At a meeting in preparation of the ministerial meet in Buenos Aires, WTO members were warned that time is running out for efforts to secure a deal on agriculture trade as “deep divides remain”. At the meeting, the Indian representatives led by ambassador J S Deepak said most WTO members backed its joint proposal with China seeking a reduction in subsidy in developed countries, arguing that these benefits gave the rich nations huge flexibility to subsidise and concentrate support on certain products. India also insisted that public stockholding and domestic support cannot be linked.

Supporting the G33 statement on public stockholding, Indian representatives said there can be no substantive outcomes in Buenos Aires without a permanent solution on the issue, something that was promised in 2014. Sources in Delhi said the G33 plan provides a clear framework and has received support from a majority of WTO members. “This happens every time. The developed countries don’t want to settle it and use it every time to negotiate something else.We are not going to allow this,” said an officer.