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Big gains for India from services reform

india Updated: Jan 04, 2008 20:57 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

The World Bank has predicted large benefits for India and the rest of the world from opening trade in services markets and said India could stand to gain more than any other country by bringing services on to the centre-stage of Doha negotiations.

A new 'Handbook of International Trade in Services' brought out by the World Bank said that at a time when negotiations to open up agricultural manufacturing markets have taken centre-stage at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), there is a risk that the critical area of trade in services might not receive its due attention.

The Handbook, edited by Aaditya Mattoo, Robert M Stern and Gianni Zanini, highlights potential gains from the reform of trade in communications, finance, transport and business services are estimated to be more than five times larger than those from the comparable liberalisation of trade in goods.

Speaking at a joint session organised by World Bank and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) India's chief negotiator at the Doha Round and additional secretary in the commerce and industry ministry Rahul Khullar said India's interest in reviving the services negotiations under the Doha round stems from the fact that "it would generate employment, put the vast pool of available skills to work and otptimise the benefits arising out of having a youthful population".

In the past 15 years, India's services exports have increased 15-fold, from around $5 billion in 1990 to nearly $74 billion in 2006. "Today, more than a third of India's aggregate exports are services, an exceptionally high share not matched by any large developing country and only a handful of advanced countries," the handbook said.