RCEP trade ministers to meet in Manila in Nov, India for greater market access
New Delhi: Trade ministers of 16 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries, including India and China, are expected to meet in Manila in mid-November to take stock of negotiations for the proposed mega agreement, an official said.
RCEP is a trade pact among 16 countries that aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights. “The meeting is likely to take place on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, to be held from 9 November,” the government official added.
The ministerial-level meeting assumes significance as several issues related to the goods and services sector are yet to be resolved. In the recently-concluded 20th round of talks in South Korea, member countries deliberated on the stalled issues. The members have yet to finalise the maximum number of tariff lines or products on which countries would eliminate duties.
The bloc comprises 10 Asean members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Indian industry and exporters are apprehensive about the presence of China in the grouping. They have stated that lowering or eliminating duties for China may flood domestic markets with Chinese goods.
India’s trade deficit with China stood at $51 billion in 2016-17. Which is why, India wants certain deviations for such countries. Under such deviations, India may propose a longer duration for either reduction or elimination of import duties for such countries. India is also pressing for greater market access in the services sector, particularly easy movement of professionals. Talks for the pact had started in Phnom Penh in November 2012. India already has implemented a free trade agreement with the Asean, Japan and South Korea. It is negotiating free trade pacts with others, including Australia and New Zealand.