Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Opinion | Be trade positive

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, appears to be on a warpath against the government. It has launched a 10-day protest against India’s plan to join the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This is a free-trade pact among the 10-nation Asean bloc and six other Eastern countries: India, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. The SJM fears, not entirely without reason, that knocking down tariff walls under RCEP could let cheap Chinese imports swamp the country, hurting Indian industry, agriculture and jobs.

With China in a trade war with the US, Beijing is eyeing other export markets. It’s also notorious for dumping dirt-cheap goods overseas. Yet, India needs the RCEP. Trade among its 16 nations is estimated at $2.8 trillion already, and is likely to soar as this ‘Asian century’ takes off. As commerce minister Piyush Goyal has cautioned, staying out of the bloc could result in India’s isolation. We must overcome our export pessimism and sign up, but also bargain hard to secure as much access to foreign markets as possible.

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