India’s demands on services trade ‘too high’: EU

NAYANIMA BASU Brussels | Updated on January 20, 2018

The European Union believes that India’s demand on market access for its professionals under the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) will be politically difficult to concede.

“India’s demand on getting more market access for its professionals is a bit too high. It will be difficult to accommodate their demand on services trade,” said Daniel Rosario, spokesperson in the European Commission’s Trade department.

However, he asserted that talks on all these issues are underway at the technical level between both sides. There is no decision yet on when the two sides would have a formal round of talks.

Talks on the services trade did feature when Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia was in Brussels before the EU-India Summit was held here on March 30.

Data adequacy

Under services trade, India has been demanding data adequacy since the talks started in 2007, mainly for its IT-ITeS professionals, as this is expected to boost the country’s IT offshore industry with free flow of data.

It is unlikely that the EU will concede this demand as it will require a legislative change by the European Parliament.

According to European Commission officials, both sides are holding a series of discussions on how to take this forward but it will take a long time.

Besides, for data adequacy the EU would have to recognise India as a “data secured” nation and this does not come under the ambit of the BTIA.

Joint working group

Both sides have also set up a joint working group on this issue as the European Commission believes India’s cyber security laws have “huge gaps” and do not conform to European standards.

“The issue on movement of professionals under the services trade has been addressed in principle. But this is no doubt a sensitive issue. But I believe India should be given more market access as it is in the interest of the European businesses. The trend should be towards increased opportunities for Indian workers here,” said Francois Godement, Director, Asia/ China Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations.

(The writer is in Brussels at the invitation of the Delegation of the European Union to India)

Published on April 27, 2016

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