India for free cross-border labour movement

London: In the backdrop of UK and several other European countries tightening their visa rules, India today called for free movement of labour across national frontiers in sync with capital and technology flows. "If we are viewing the trade paradigm from a perspective of generating sustainable employment, it is imperative to address the issue of free movement of labour across borders," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said, addressing a global investment conference here.

While in today`s globalised world capital and technology move with unprecedented speed, labour is not allowed to move freely, Sharma said in the presence of British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable. UK, Germany and several other European countries are following tough visa regimes for professionals and students from developing countries. India has raised this issue on many occasions with these countries.

On the India-EU trade, Sharma said negotiations for the proposed comprehensive free trade agreement have reached an advanced stage. "India is in an advanced stage of concluding an ambitious Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with EU," he said. India is in talks with the 27-nation bloc, its biggest trading partner, for liberalising commerce in goods, services and investment through the BTIA. The two sides are expected to conclude the talks during the year. The discussions for the agreement were to conclude in 2011, but differences between the two sides on the level of opening of the market came in the way of the pact.

The two-way trade stood at USD 91.3 billion in 2010-11. A Ficci report said that trade is likely to more than double to exceed USD 207 billion by 2015, if the trade pact is formalised. India and EU aim to slash duties on over 90 per cent of their trade under the proposed pact. India has already implemented trade opening pacts with ASEAN and Korea, Japan, and Malaysia.