India-WTO Current Affairs

India to pitch Trade Facilitation in Services at WTO

India will make a presentation on the proposed Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement to World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo and India Inc.

The global pact proposed by India to boost services trade at the WTO-level aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers and professionals across borders for short-term work.

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 TFS Agreement
  • 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.

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India moves to WTO against US on temporary working visa issue

India has filed a complaint against the United States decision to impose high fees L-1 and H-1B categories of temporary working visas in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

US had imposed fees on certain applicants for L-1 and H-1B categories of non-immigrant temporary working visas into the country,

According to India

  • US measure is inconsistent with the global norms and it would impact Indian IT professionals as it makes Indian IT companies less competitive in that market.
  • These measures appear to be “inconsistent” with the terms, limitations and conditions agreed under the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services).

Background

  • Earlier in 2015, US President Barack Obama had signed into law of spending package which had introduced a hefty $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and $4,500 for L1 visa.
  • Under this law, companies having more than 50 employees and having more than 50 per cent of their US employees on H-1B and L1 visas were forced pay the new fee from April 1, 2016.
  • H-1B and L1 visas are temporary work visas for skilled IT professionals to work in US and India is the largest user of both H1B and L1 visas.

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