Geneva: Many developing countries, including China, on Thursday supported India’s initiative to “rejuvenate" and “re-energize" negotiations to improve the disciplines on domestic regulation, which are being used by the US, the European Union (EU), Canada and Australia, among others, to deny market access to short-term service providers such as computer professionals, according to people familiar with the development.

Over the last 23 years, the US, the EU, Canada and Australia erected barriers through what are called domestic regulation conditions, such as qualification requirements, licensing requirements, and technical standards, to deny market access to short-term services providers from India, and other developing countries, under the Mode 4 of General Agreement on Trade in Services.

The four major industrialized countries, along with their allies, launched an informal pluri-lateral initiative at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that would make their existing insidious domestic regulation barriers for the supply of short-term services providers permanent, said a trade envoy, who asked not to be quoted.

To counter the pluri-lateral initiative on domestic regulation, which is being pursued outside the WTO’s Working Party on Domestic Regulation (WPDR), India floated a proposal on how to accomplish a global deal for improving the domestic regulation disciplines on a multilateral basis.

India sought a meeting of the World Trade Organization’s WPDR to discuss its proposal on 6 December.

During the meeting, services negotiators from other countries like China, the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific) group, the African Group, the least-developed countries, South Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Egypt and Nigeria supported the proposal, saying it offers a legitimate basis for improving the domestic regulation disciplines.

India said “Mode 4 (concerning the movement of short-term services providers) is the most important mode of export interest for most developing countries, including least developed countries".

“Unfortunately, it is the most neglected and, therefore, needs facilitation through domestic regulation disciplines."

Several studies had pointed to the gross asymmetries in market access in the four modes of supply of services under General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

While most of the major industrialized countries managed to secure market access in India and other countries, through cross-border services in Mode 1 and commercial presence in Mode 3, they had erected barriers on the movement of short-term services providers in Mode 4 through domestic regulations.

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