Saarc Agreement On Trade In Services (Satis)

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. Analysis of the offer transmission list by Saarc Member States shows that SATIS bids from some Member States were lower than the GATS plus when some GATS services were not offered to other Saarland Member States under SATIS. In the case of India, its proposal is GATS-plus, but falls well short of its GATS bids more under its bilateral free trade agreements with Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, etc. It is clear that in the liberalisation of Saarland, there has been a very cautious approach to the liberalisation of trade in services and that the region falls 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.

Some commentators have argued that Safta anomalies must first be corrected before starting completely with SATIS, which can also be a delay factor. This argument is fundamentally misplaced because of the following factors. First, trade in goods and services is so intertwined in the modern world that some of the barriers to the flow of goods are automatically eliminated by the liberalization of services. Second, the liberalization of services is an incentive to attract foreign direct investment in the region`s services.