India has achieved the first significant breakthrough in its attempts to export professional services by signing a pact with Singapore that could soon allow Indian nurses to practise in the Southeast Asian country. These pacts are part of free trade agreements (FTAs) that India has signed with several regions, including Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Asean. India and Singapore entered into FTA in August 2005. After a decade of intense negotiations India signed the by recognising each other’s degrees under the pact. This is the first such pact signed by India in services under a comprehensive free trade agreement with any country. “This has paved way for our healthcare service providers to institutionally access markets abroad. It will further open up doors for India to enter into similar mutual recognition arrangements with other countries,” according to an official release circulated by the Commerce Ministry. Singapore will recognise nursing degrees awarded by Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Manipal College of Nursing, Christian Medical College (Vellore) and College of Nursing, Thiruvananthapuram. MRAs pave the way for recognition of the professional bodies of one country by the other. Regulatory bodies of various professional services like engineering, nursing, accountancy and architecture are encouraged to enter into these pacts.
In a major gain for India, Singapore agreed to expand coverage of Indian nursing institutions by recognising seven nursing institutions in the MRA. It will open up a safer avenue for Indian nurses, who also end up in countries like Iraq where they face severe security threats. This has paved way for our healthcare service providers to institutionally access markets abroad. It will further open up doors for India to enter into similar mutual recognition arrangements with other countries. Skilled professionals from sectors, including medical and accountancy, can currently get a job in other countries but the signing of such agreements make it easier to find employment. India is making efforts to expand scope of its services exports, services exports, beyond information technology.
India and Singapore concluded the second review of India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which was officially announced on 1st June by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) during Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s State visit to Singapore. In the review, India and Singapore agreed to expand the coverage of tariff concessions, liberalize the rules of origin and incorporate new Product Specific Rules (PSRs) to further enhance the trade between the two countries. Both countries could reach a common understanding on various unresolved issues in the 2nd Review which were pending since 2010. Although the two sides had also agreed to sign MRAs in four other areas including architecture, accountancy, dentistry and medical (doctors), there has not been much progress in these.