WTO new regulations to streamline international trade in services

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Source-This post on WTO new regulations to streamline international trade in services is based on the article “WTO enforces new rule for simplifying services trade, India stays out” published in “Live Mint” on 27th February 2024.

Why in the News?

Recently, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MCA 13) of the World Trade Organization introduced new regulations to simplify international trade in services.

Around 72 nations have agreed to take on additional commitments in services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) to facilitate non-goods trade among themselves and extended similar concessions to all other World Trade Organization (WTO) members.

13th Ministerial Conference (MCA 13) of the World Trade Organization
Source- Hindustan Times

What are the objectives of these regulations?

1. Applicability-These regulations apply on a Most Favored Nation (MFN) basis.

2. Aim– The aim is to enhance transparency and accessibility in authorization processes, along with commitments to gender equality.

3. Significance– The regulations address the bureaucratic hurdles in cross-border service trade, aiming to simplify procedures and ensure equal opportunities for service providers globally.

4. Drawback- However, only 72 out of the 164 members of the WTO are parties to the agreement. India and South Africa were among the countries that did not sign this agreement.

What is General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)?

1. About– It is as a treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

2. Aim– It was made to expand the multilateral trading system to services, similar to how the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) does for goods.

3. Signed– It was signed at the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and took effect on January 1, 1995.

4. MembersAll WTO countries, including India, are also part of the GATS.

What other events took place at the conference?

1. The Dialogue on Plastic Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade (DPP):
It aims to encourage WTO members to decrease plastics pollution and support environmentally sustainable plastics trade.
b. 78 members, excluding India, are involved in the Plastics Pollution Dialogue, representing 85% of global trade volume.
c. Global leaders advocated for reducing plastic trade due to its greenhouse gas emissions.
d. According to UN data, global plastic trade exceeded $1.2 trillion in 2022. The agency forecasts that 19% of greenhouse gas emissions will originate from plastics by 2040.

2. Fossil fuel subsidy reform (FFSR) initiative: Global leaders stressed the importance of streamlining, phasing out, or eliminating harmful fossil fuel subsidies through current or new methods.
a. The FFSR initiative builds on WTO members’ pledges outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 12(c) of the 2030 Agenda and aligns with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
b. It also supports the shift away from fossil fuels in energy systems.
c. India ranked fourth among the top five countries in fossil fuel subsidies. China held the first position, followed by the US and Russia.

Note– At the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, India committed to achieving net zero by 2070.

UPSC Syllabus- International Organisations/Agreements/ Environment

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