4 min read.Updated: 16 Nov 2020, 08:44 PM ISTAjit Ranade
Joining this mega trade pact could spell new opportunities that are likely to serve our ambitions well
One year after India abruptly walked out of this mega trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by the remaining 15 countries, 10 of which form the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc. Coincidentally, the signing took place just days after the biannual ASEAN summit, in which India participated and renewed its pledge to deepen trade ties. India’s free trade agreement with ASEAN was signed in 2010. Since then, bilateral trade has more than doubled, making ASEAN India’s fourth-largest trade partner. This healthy growth means there have been substantial mutual gains. Underscoring India’s commitment to deeper trade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Speeding up all types of connectivity, be it physical, economic, digital, financial… is a top priority." Indeed, it was Modi who had upgraded India’s Look East policy of the 90s to an Act East policy, implying greater economic engagement and also greater road, sea and air connectivity. Joining RCEP would have taken this a notch higher to Embrace East.