|Member Nations of Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)|
Trans Pacific Partnership is crucial for America's Pivot to Asia which is aimed at checking China's rise and maintaining America's continued relevance in Asia. It is part of America's answer to Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road fund to promote Chinese trade with Asia and Europe. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the first major piece of this Chinese plan. Pakistan's inclusion in TPP and TISA confirms America's continued interest in maintaining close ties with its old Cold War ally in South Asia.
Trade in Services Agreement is being negotiated among United States, European Union, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uruguay, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Turkey, Pakistan and Paraguay. These countries make up about two-thirds of the global GDP.
Trade in service is being more and more important with rapid growth in services sector of the world economy. Services now account for nearly two-thirds (64%) of the world GDP with the rest coming from manufacturing (30%) and agriculture (6%). Services account for even higher percentages of GDP in US (80%) and EU (73%).
Service sector is also the largest and fastest growing sector of Pakistan's economy. Services account for nearly 60% of Pakistan's GDP while manufacturing and agriculture each contribute about 20%. It therefore makes sense for Pakistan to join multilateral trade in service deals like TISA.
A key TISA provision likely to benefit Pakistanis is ease of visa restrictions for “Movement of Natural Persons” among member nations which include the United States, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada. This section discusses commitments by the parties not to place undue burdens on visas and singles out face-to-face interviews as an example of “overly burdensome procedures.” Even before this agreement is in place, there has been a growing ravel from Pakistan to US with 78,000 Pakistanis traveling to the United States on various non-immigrant visas in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available.
Other provisions of TISA would ease outsourcing of a variety of services from America and Europe to Pakistan. These include information technology services, back office services, medical, engineering, legal and accounting services. These outsourced services will help create job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of college grads pouring into the job market every year.
The US-China competition appears to be quite beneficial to Pakistan as both great powers continue to court the country through trade and investment deals. I hope Pakistani leaders will play their cards well to get the maximum help they can to build the country's human resources, infrastructure and economy.
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