The Financial Express, March 14, 2003

New Delhi, March 13: European Union trade commissioner Pascal Lamy has said that he would take up the issue of liberalisation of movement of natural persons with all EU members in Geneva next week and persuade them to get over their reluctance to facilitate movement of work force.

Addressing a gathering of industrialists and government officials at a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) here on Thursday, Mr Lamy said that he was aware that Mode IV of the services negotiation, which dealt with movement of natural persons, was of key interest to India. “I have assured the commerce ministry in my discussion with them this morning that I would try my best to convince EU members that their attitude of reluctance should change.”

Mr Lamy said the EU and India had converging interests at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the two sides were working hard to come closer. He further said that he had a very important meeting with commerce minister Arun Jaitley and his team. “The key to success in Doha would be for the two regions to build a partnership based on shared interests of business communities and the society at large,” he added

Later, at a panel discussion organised by the Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), Mr Lamy said that the development aspect of the Doha mandate could be addressed by interlinking three main areas of market access, rules and technical assistance to developing and poor countries.

The trade commissioner said that in market access, the ambience was improving and the EU was willing to fulfil its share of commitments. In agriculture, the EU was in favour of giving flexibilities to developing countries including India to protect their interests like food security, he added.

When questioned about his views on the growing regional trade arrangements by Martin Wolf from Financial Times, Mr Lamy replied that there was no evidence that major trading blocks including the EU or the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) resulted in diversion of trade.

He was, however, countered by TN Srinivasan from Yale University, who pointed out that figures showed that India’s exports to the North American region was adversely affected after NAFTA was formulated.

On technical assistance, Mr Lamy said that there was no doubt that both developed and developing could do better on the front. “The resources are sufficient, but they need to be redirected and better used. The absorption capacity of recipients also needs to be improved,” he said.