FICCI hails EU

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New Delhi, Jul 27 (UNI) Welcoming the progress made in WTO services negotiations at the signalling conference held in Geneva, FICCI today said it is encouraging to see a number of developed countries indicating their willingness to expand and deepen their services offers in an important area of export interest to Indian business.

Barring informal discussions, no decision was taken at the yesterday's conference, according to WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell.

The apex chamber noted that the EU has indicated to provide minimum visas for 80,000 service professionals and the US has signal to consider broadening and expanding its offer in terms of number of sectors and market access.

Offering to discuss giving more ''temporary access'' to its labour market for foreign professionals, the US trade representative Susan Schwab said, ''we are ready to have that conversation in the context of the Doha round.'' But at the same, the US is seeking opening up of foreign markets in financial services, telecommunications, express delivery and energy as well as commitments to lowering or eliminating foreign equity limitations.

Describing the EU and US signals as positive, FICCI Secretary General Amit Mitra called for a deeper engagement to take this forward and to convert them into real market access for Indian service suppliers in the area of information technology, engineering, medical and architectural services.

He said concomitant or simultaneous progress in services would greatly help negotiations in agriculture and non-agriculture market access (Nama or industrial goods).

Emphasising the significance of services for India, FICCI pointed out that India's exports of commercial services stood at 86 billion dollars in 2007, accounting for 2.7 per cent share of the worldwide exports.

India's software services exports were over 40 billion dollars in 2007-08, while exports of services in financial, communications, business and management consultancy, architectural and engineering had reached nearly 25 billion dollars and are growing rapidly.

India among other developing countries have been demanding unshackling of barriers put up by rich developed countries in movement of professionals from poorer developing countries.


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