Home >Companies >News >At BJP meet, party backs Centre’s move to opt out of RCEP
Union minister Piyush Goyal attended the meeting. (HT)
Union minister Piyush Goyal attended the meeting. (HT)

At BJP meet, party backs Centre’s move to opt out of RCEP

  • Piyush Goyal gives a presentation on why India did not sign RCEP, emphasizing that joining it was not in national interest
  • Goyal also says 16 countries had raised around 70 contentious issues, out of which at least 50 issues were raised by the Union government alone

NEW DELHI : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday defended the government’s decision to opt out of the contentious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying it would not have been in the interest of the Indian industry.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided that India should not join RCEP because it was not in national interest, as joining the grouping would have widened India’s trade deficits with some countries and harmed its domestic industry," said a senior BJP leader who attended the party’s parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday.

India hasn’t exactly benefited from the free-trade agreements (FTAs) it has signed with countries such as Japan and South Korea, and there were concerns that a similar pact with a China-led initiative will only further harm local businesses, given that New Delhi already has a large trade deficit with Beijing.

RCEP partners include the 10 South-East Asian economies besides China, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

At the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting on the second day of the winter session, Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal gave a presentation on why the Centre decided not to sign the RCEP pact, emphasizing that joining the block was not in national interest.

In 2011-12, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had taken part in the RCEP dialogue process and was keen to join the block, the BJP leader said, quoting Goyal.

“When the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power in 2014, the Union government decided not to withdraw from the discussions immediately and, instead, try to bargain hard with member countries and raise India’s concerns. When we realized that the concerns were not being answered, we chose to withdraw. However, India continues to have friendly relations with all the countries," he added.

Goyal also informed the BJP parliamentarians of both houses that the 16 countries had raised around 70 contentious issues, out of which at least 50 issues were raised by the Union government alone. “All the countries have said that they will look at the concerns raised by India and they want India to be part of the RCEP," the BJP leader said.

Last month, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and various other industry lobby groups had held nationwide protests to stop the government from signing the RCEP deal.

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