US, EU, Australia doubtful of India’s easy rules pitch

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NEW DELHI: The US, the EU, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have expressed apprehension at India’s proposal for simpler and more transparent qualification and licensing norms for temporary entry of professionals in other countries, saying they are not convinced with India’s approach. 

The proposal, that talks of giving consideration to relevant professional experience of applicants as a complement to educational qualifications, has found support from developing countries and LDC members including the African Group. 

Mode 4 or movement of natural persons is one of the four ways through which services can be supplied internationally. It includes movement of natural persons such as independent professionals and is of key interest to India. 

Last year, India had sought to revive discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on recognition of educational qualifications and licences for professionals to provide services in other countries, called domestic regulation in trade parlance.

Earlier this month, New Delhi revised its proposal on movement of natural persons or Mode 4 to include application procedures, transparency and requirements for temporary entry in the ambit of the proposed simplified norms, especially for least developed countries. 

The initial proposal was restricted to licensing requirements and procedures, qualification requirements and procedures, and technical standards. However, developed countries have cast their doubts at the proposal and asked India to show how the proposal could achieve consensus. 

Calling it a “sensitive issue”, they said discussion on disciplines for all services sectors has lagged even as a group of 35 WTO members including China, the EU, Australia, Japan and Russia had formed a plurilateral on services domestic regulation at the 2017 ministerial in Buenos Aires.

“Developed countries said they were not convinced that India’s approach offered a way forward. They are discussing these issues in plurilaterals but not engaging otherwise,” said an official in the know of the development. 

The revised proposal from India comes as “international trade in professional services… is inhibited by a range of qualification, licensing and entry-related requirements and procedures… commercially-meaningful disciplines on these procedures can therefore unleash the potential for mutually beneficial trade”. 

In its revised proposal, India has recommended WTO members to accept applications in electronic format, doing away with the norm mandating physical presence in the territory of a member for the submission of an application for a licence or qualification, and has included clauses pertaining to requests for extensions of stay. 

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