India pushes for new thrust to services sector under WTO

Monday, 21 June 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India is pushing for a new thrust to the services sector under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ensure equal focus on this area in the ongoing negotiations, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said Monday.

"The services sector for us is very important - as much as agriculture and non-agriculture," the minister told a press conference here after his return from Sao Paulo, where he had attended the 11th session of Unctad.

"In the framework agreement of WTO, which we hope to finalise by end-July, what I am attempting to see is that the services sector gets as much attention as non-agriculture market access and agriculture," he added.

Trade ministers of 147 WTO member countries are hoping to arrive at a framework by end-July that will trigger the next round of trade liberalisation under the multilateral forum.

So far an agreement on farm trade has not only been the most discussed but also proved to be the most contentious and elusive on all three basic, but connected, areas -- market access, domestic support and export subsidies.

"What we are aiming is to see what can be done in non-information technology sectors," Kamal Nath said, adding that the country's IT sector was already on a firm footing.

The minister took the example of India's emergence as a global base for clinical research and said what was being examined was to see if it could become a part of the country's healthcare policy.

He said he was in talks with apex chambers such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to get a hang of what needs to be done for the services industry.

The minister also indicated that he had spoken with British authorities in London on his way back from Sao Paulo to get recognition for India's chartered accountants.

"I have said that the United Kingdom must recognise the Indian degrees."

Source: IANS
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