CUTS has undertaken the project titled “Study to identify hurdles for independent Indian health service personnel in selected countries under GATS Mode IV”. It aims to simultaneously focus on experiences acquired by Indian professionals to draw lessons that can facilitate in managing the temporary movement effectively. It intends to highlight how the ongoing GATS negotiations can be used to generate a stronger liberalising momentum in health sector. This project is supported by World Health Organisation. This study will be conducted for four months.

Background

In case of Indian diaspora population, healthcare and information technology are the two categories of workers, which have dominated the migration from India to overseas. Movement of Indian healthcare workers to industrialised countries and to the Gulf region has been a long-standing phenomenon, going back to several decades. While the movement of Indian healthcare workers to the Middle East and Gulf countries has mainly been under short-term arrangements, their movement to the industrialised countries has been mostly long-term in nature. The majority of Indian physicians, who are abroad and settled in Commonwealth countries.

However, the movement of these professionals under Mode 4 are subject to a range of restrictions, which include wage parity requirement, strict visa procedures, Economic Needs Tests, non-recognition of professional qualifications, imposition of discriminatory standards or burdensome licensing requirements, payment of social security without corresponding benefits, requirements of registration with or membership of professional organisations. Besides, in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks, security in the US became both an immediate and long-term concern. There are concerns that various domestic regulations and restrictions by the developed countries are essentially to protect their own domestic workforce.

Empirical studies further indicate that even marginal liberalization of barriers affecting movement of natural persons can produce large gains. Recent estimates indicate that if industrial countries increase their quotas on movement of skilled and low-skilled temporary workers by an equivalent of 3 per cent of their workforce, world welfare would rise by more than US $150 billion a year, with these gains being widely shared within the world economy. Thus, there is considerable scope to expand trade in services through movement of natural persons and to benefit from such trade.