Philippines’ tough stand can delay India-Asean services pact

Philippines’ tough stand can delay India-Asean services pact

New Delhi: The Philippines, a strong player in the global outsourcing, has put a spoke in the India-Asean negotiations for liberalising mutual trade in services.

“The Philippines is not giving good offers. It has raised concerns over the impact of opening up the services trade between India and the Asean on its own economy," an official told PTI.

After implementing a free trade agreement in goods in January last year, India is negotiating with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for widening the scope of the pact by including services and investments, key areas of interest for New Delhi.

The service sector contributes more than half of the Philippines’ economic output, according to the US Department of State.

The Philippines’ BPO industry accounts for about 15% of the global outsourcing market and has been the fastest-growing segment of the country’s economy.

Out of the total 35.06 million work force in Philippines, 51% are engaged in services sector. In a way, it is a strong competitor for India in the global BPO market.

“The Philippines too has good number of English-speaking people. Interest of both the countries are same. But India is trying to convince them that they will gain from the pact," the official said.

However, the ministerial level talks, likely in the second week of August in Indonesia, are expected to push the negotiations.

Both India and the Asean wanted the talks to conclude by end of this year.

A Ficci-Deloitte study has said that once the agreement comes into effect, Indian entrepreneurs would get considerable opportunities in services like telecommunications, radio, television, consultancy, architectural, legal, accounting, education, health and social work.

The Asean countries are Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

India-Asean trade in 2010 stands at $50.33 billion. Both the sides aimed to touch $70 billion by 2012.