India to rank trade partners to gauge restrictiveness

India is developing an index to rank eight of its major trading partners and countries it is pursuing free trade agreements (FTA) with, to gauge their restrictiveness to cross-border movement of professionals, a crucial area of interest for the country. 


The commerce and industry ministry has begun an exercise to rank the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and India, among others on various criteria such as entry barriers, discriminatory measures, competition barriers and transparency in regulation on the index which is being developed on the lines of OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index. 


We are looking at nine countries across 11 policy areas where they would be ranked on the basis of their perception,” said an official aware of the details. 


There is a growing view among policymakers that the country has not been able to get a good deal from its trade partners in services sector, particularly in FTAs. This index will also help it highlight the kind of restrictions trade partners imposes on India. 


Criteria include regulation of dominant firms to ensure market access, advertising restrictions, minimum capital requirement, foreign equity limits/restrictions, quotas — number of firms permitted to practice and restrictions on type of shares/bonds held by foreigners, among others.