No movement of professionals under Indo-Lanka pact: Harsha de Silva

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Dec 23, 2015 (LBO) – Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harsha de Silva requested professionals not to mislead the public with false statements as there is no movement of natural persons under proposed Indo – Lanka economic pact.

Speaking at a press briefing de Silva emphasized that there is no point of holding union actions with regard to these types of false reports.

An Indian doctor, lawyer, engineer or any other professional can’t just come here and open a dispensary, law firm or any other operation to deliver their services here, Silva said.

Initially two sectors, namely Information Technology and Shipbuilding Marine Industry will be opened for trading under this pact.

“Let’s say, there may be a necessity for getting professionals to repair ships. So that kind of thing can happen.” he said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has already invited his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to visit Sri Lanka to sign this pact next year.

Under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATs), services can be traded internationally in four different ways, known as the four modes.

Deputy Minister said since Sri Lanka has already allowed the first 3 modes; now the question is about mode 4 (movement of natural persons).

Silva however stated that Mode 4 does not exist in the proposed Indo-Sri Lanka Economic and Technology Corporation Framework Agreement or ETCFA.

“There is no movement of natural persons in this agreement. No Indian hair dresser can simply come here and open saloons.” he said.

Mode 4 does not concern persons seeking access to the employment market in the host country, nor does it affect measures regarding citizenship, residence or employment on a permanent basis.

However a copy of an agreement believed to be the draft of ETCFA sent to all medical professional organizations by Government Medical Officers’ Association shows that one objective of the draft agreement is to liberalize trade in services.

Though the draft agreement has no specific reference to mode 4 services; it eventually seeks to reduce and eliminate restrictions in trade in services between the two countries.

As per World Trade Organization, the measurement of Mode 4 flows poses dreadful challenges as no clear statistical framework is currently in place to assess its trade size.

The Balance of Payments items “compensation of employees” and “workers’ remittances” are often used as statistical indicators to measure Mode 4 flows.

Relative to the other three modes of supply, global estimates suggest that trade through Mode 4 remains a very small component of overall trade in services.