WTO has asked India to prepare trade facilitation paper: Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: The World Trade Organization (WTO) has asked India to prepare a paper that would form the basis for initiating discussions and work on a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in services, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.

“The WTO has asked us to prepare a paper to initiate discussions and work on a Trade Facilitation Agreement in services,” Sitharaman said at a panel discussion on the Economist magazine’s ‘India Summit’ here.

“At a meeting with WTO ministers in Paris, which I attended, we raised the point that while there is a TFA in goods, there is no TFA in services,” the minister said. Sitharaman said the issue was raised at an informal meeting with members of the WTO on the sidelines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ministerial council meeting in Paris in June.

“I am glad that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has referred to this matter,” she added in reference to his intervention in the matter at the G20 Summit in China on Monday. “Knowledge- and innovation-driven economy requires free mobility.

India’s priority is to work towards Trade Facilitation Agreement for Services,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a tweet quoting the Prime Minister. India is pushing for a TFA in services at the WTO as this sector has huge potential and contributes significantly to the country’s economy.

“India has a strong services sector, which contributes over 55 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product,” she said, adding that India was unable to leverage its strength in services to get the necessary benefits in the TFA in goods signed with the Asean group, for instance.