'The CRS request is yet to get a positive response from many nations'

DQI Bureau
New Update

Ujal Singh Bhatia is India's Ambassador and

Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO). At a time when

negotiations on services are being held at the WTO, Juhi Bhambal spoke to His

Excellency in Geneva, on India's stance on the negotiation of IT

services-related issues


India has a special focus on trade in IT services at the WTO.

What are some of the specific clauses that we are negotiating for?

India has a focus not only on trade in IT services, but also on market
access in movement of natural persons (Mode 4). With respect to trade in

services, following are some of the important issues that India is negotiating

on several issues of importance.

One, we are trying to get commitments at a higher level of

aggregation in computer-related services (CRS), which include consulting

services related to hardware installation, software implementation, data

processing, database services etc. The higher level of aggregation would ensure

not only wider coverage but also that services arising out of technological

advancement in the future are covered.


Two, IT and ITeS include much more than CRS. To ensure certainty

and predictability in the business environment of these services, India has

requested for binding commitments in sectors where services can be supplied

through cross-border supply. The request in cross-border supply was an effort in

this direction, wherein commitments were requested in around 55 sectors and


Last but not the least, India has also made requests to

developed countries in Mode 4 as the co-ordinator of the Mode 4 group. Access is

being sought in the categories of contractual services suppliers and independent

professionals in the CRS sector. We are requesting for removal of economic needs

tests, reasonable duration of stay with the possibility of extension, removal of

absolute wage parity as a pre-condition for entry of foreign service provider

etc. Sixteen developing countries are co-sponsors of this request.


How likely are these negotiations to close in India's favor?

It is not easy to predict the result of the negotiations at this stage since
this would depend on the overall level of ambition in the Doha Round as well as

the ambition within the services negotiations. Given this caveat, it does appear

that the CRS request has been able to garner a positive response from many

recipient countries.

In Mode 4, there is a reasonable chance of inclusion of the

categories of Contractual Service Suppliers (CSS) and independent professionals

in the commitments of many developed countries and inclusion of CRS sectors in

the list of sectors where commitments may be undertaken. However, the response

of the US remains uncertain.


What are the US and the EU stances on the issue of immigration

of skilled Indian IT workers?

The US continues to rely on H1B visas and the EU relies on the current visa
regime to provide entry to skilled workers. India has been pushing both the US

and EU on taking commitments in categories of service providers such as CSS,

employees of juridical persons and independent professionals, and providing a

separate and more liberal regime for their entry... However, the US has not

agreed to include these categories in its offer. The EU has recognized these

categories, but conditions of entry remain restrictive, and sectoral coverage


Do you think that the issue of US reluctance to open up its

agriculture sector will affect the outcome of the negotiation?

The Doha round is a single undertaking and hence there are trade offs and
linkages across the various areas of the round. Accordingly, there is a link to

some extent between agriculture, non agricultural market access and services...

India has repeatedly stressed that there can be no trade offs involving its core

concerns in agriculture. IT services, on the other hand, already enjoy a high

degree of openness in both the countries.