Saarc Agreement On Trade In Services

· The GST-OIC Framework Agreement is a fundamental document that defines the general principles of the creation of a system of preferential relations between OIC Member States: it is clear that there has been a very cautious approach to liberalising trade in services in Saarland and that the region is well short of the “early conclusion of negotiations” of the 2010 Saarc Declaration. The small Member States of South Asia seem to think that the regulatory and institutional framework should be present before launching the liberalisation of services, and therefore a cautious approach to liberalisation is needed. Such perceptions are not necessarily correct, as it is the liberalization of services that most often triggers reforms on the regulatory and institutional side, and these reforms do not take place in most countries without such liberalization. Member States have been given the freedom to pass on their “request lists” to others. The “candidate lists” are quite extensive compared to the offers of all Member States. Business services, transport, tourism, education and finance are common in Member States` nomination lists. Although some members are not yet required to submit their “list of applications”, India`s “candidate lists” are the most comprehensive, given India`s long experience in negotiations on services in other bilateral free trade agreements, compared to other Saarland member states. To date, ten meetings of the SATIS expert group have taken place. Given that SATIS adopts the GATS approach plus the “positive list” for the liberalization of trade in services, it is taken into account that in Saarc there are five LDCs whose members are not part of Bhutan and Afghanistan. Both countries were invited to submit the “offer list” based on their comfort, while the least developed countries were invited to submit their “offer list” to the WTO, i.e. WTO commitments plus, GATS-plus. This meant that they had to add additional sectors to the initial list they had submitted to the WTO.

The three developing countries, Saarc — India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — had to submit a “list of offers” that was GATS Doha Development Agenda plus.