By Our Reporter, ISLAMABAD

ISLAMABAD, Aug 18: The South Asian countries should open their services sectors for investment and seek unconditional market access for their services in developed countries.

This was the consensus of majority of speakers who delivered their presentations on trade in services at a seminar here on Wednesday. Economic Adviser to the Ministry of Commerce, India, Dr H.A.C. Prassad highlighted the agreement on trade in services. He said there was huge potential to get maximum benefits from services sectors.

He cited examples of America, Sweden and Japan which offered services for investment but attached with stagnant conditions which was not possible for developing countries to meet.

Mr Prassad said developed countries had also provided high subsidy in their services sector, which he said needed to be removed to provide a level-playing field for developing countries.

He also asked for early removal of non-tariff barriers in the services sector. He agreed that before opening of the services sector for investment, the consumers should be taken into confidence and their interest be well-guarded.

Others who spoke on the services sectors included joint director, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Manab Majumdar and a researcher of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Pakistan, Rehana Siddiqui and former member of the National Planning Commission of Nepal Minendra Rijal.

They all asked for opening of selective services sectors for investment and urged for movement of natural persons from developing to developed countries. They dispelled the impression that export of natural persons might result in brain drain in the exporting countries.

During the session on textile and clothing issues, a researcher of Institute of Policy Studies, Sri Lanka, Textiles and Clothing (T&C), Dr Saman Kelegama stated that two stages of Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA) had been passed, but little meaningful integration had taken place.

Exports will improve with relocation of industry from developed to developing countries, but the maximum relocation will be in South Asia.