Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for Services

What is TFA for Services?
  • It is a proposed pact
  • It is aimed at making it easier for services professionals and skilled workers to move across borders for ‘short-term’ projects
  • 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
  • India is pushing for this pact.
  • The proposed services pact is similar to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods adopted by the WTO Members in 2014 at Bali Summit to ease customs norms for boosting global goods trade.
Some proposed features of the Pact:
  • Covers measures across all modes of supply for services delivery in cross-border trade, related to entry into the market as well as those applied post-entry.
  • Seeks to ensure portability of social security contributions, as well as make sure charges or fees for immigration or visas transparent, reasonable and non-restrictive in nature.
  • Pave the way for a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals.
  • Ensure cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism.
  • Ensure publication of measures impacting services trade and timely availability of relevant information in all the WTO official languages as well as free flow of data and information for cross-border supply of services.
Why India is pushing for TFA in services?
  • Service sector has huge potential and it contributes significantly to the country’s economy.
  • It will pave the way for better negotiations on services at the bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
  • India wants that there should be some distinction between temporary movement of professionals and (permanent) migration.
  • A global pact on services trade facilitation will also help in providing greater clarity in case of disputes arising out of visa-related restrictions.
  • In that regard, India has laid that TFA in services will ease the flow of temporary movement of software, accounting, medical and consulting professionals as well as similar skilled workers.
  • TFA in Services will also  ease the flow of global services trade.

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