Millennium Post

'Indian services should profit from Industrial Revolution 4.0'

Noting that India has relaxed its visa regime from April to facilitate movement of tourists and businesses, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday that the Indian services sector must gear up to take advantage of Industrial Revolution 4.0 ushered in by high-tech manufacturing.

"There is a servicification of manufacturing globally and there is so much opportunity for India," which is very strong in the segment, Sitharaman said at the third Global Exhibition on Services meet here jointly organised by the Commerce Ministry, industry chamber CII and the Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC).

From April 1, India has liberalised the visa process for businesses, tourists and for students, while getting a visa for the country today is a simple process done online, she said.

"A huge degree of services are involved in the manufacturing of goods," Sitharaman said.

Citing a World Trade Organization (WTO) report, she said that in 2014-15, there was a fall in global services trade but during the same period, India recorded two-and-a-half times more growth in this segment.

The Indian share in the global services trade stood at 3.3 per cent, while "government is facilitating the sector with its policies," she added.

Speaking at the event, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said that during the last few months there has been a slowdown in IT and financial services, but faster growth has been seen in travel business, communications, transportation and insurance.

Last month, Sitharaman renewed India's call for expediting negotiations at the WTO on a trade facilitation agreement in services (TFS), saying multilateral bodies cannot afford to deliver slowly in the present global context.

India has presented a concept note at the WTO for a TFS Agreement, which proposes a way forward on comprehensively addressing the numerous border and behind-the-border barriers on the lines of the historic trade facilitation agreement in goods.

The TFS proposal aims at liberalising rules for movement of professionals, liberalised visa regime and long-term business visas.

India is pushing for a TFA in services at the WTO as this sector has huge potential and contributes significantly to the country's economy.

Pointing out that the Indian services sector contributes over 55 per cent to the country's Gross Domestic Product, Sitharaman earlier said India was unable to leverage its strength in services to get the necessary benefits in the TFA in goods signed with the Asean group, for instance.

Meanwhile, India's paper for a proposed TFS Agreement has been well received by many member countries, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo told reporters here during a recent visit.

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