Monday, June 22, 2009

Is there a need for a Mach II WTO that includes freedom for the "human capital"?

“I am talking about new subsidies being introduced which were given up by countries, trade distorting measures being taken, professionals being refused visas, measures being introduced which are incompatible with the WTO". These are the words of India’s new Trade and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

Mr Sharma argues that rich countries must grant Indian professionals more visas as he pressed for a resumption of stalled global trade talks. “Protectionism is also when you do not have Indian doctors coming in freely, Indian nurses coming in freely, Indian IT professionals moving,” he said, voicing a long-standing Indian demand for greater flexibility in allowing the temporary movement of skilled professionals in the US, the UK and elsewhere.

Mr. Sharma was in the US last week and today is in Britain for talks with Peter Mandelson.

While he says that the logjam in the Doha Development Round of trade talks “must be broken”, he also accuses the developed countries of erecting new trade barriers in response to the global recession. And he considers immigration issues, work immigration in this case, part of the "world trade" equation. I fully agree. I actually go further than that, arguing that the (near) free movement of capital and goods must be met by at least equal freedoms for services and immigration among the member countries of the WTO.

And if that is not possible, again IMO, then a "Mach II" WTO could be formed, an inner core within the existing WTO maybe (a la the "Eurozone" core in the EU) that has zero quotas and tariffs as well as freedom of movement and relocation for all the citizens of the member countries (a la European Union).

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