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Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

RCEP’s overtures

Joe Biden’s policy stance on RCEP isn’t clear yet, but a shift in global dynamics could present us with new options that must not be dismissed without a cost-benefit analysis

As suspense grew over what a Joe Biden-led US would mean for world trade, India got fresh overtures on Sunday from an eastern bloc that sprang from President Donald Trump’s scrapping of Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific play for leverage in Asia. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership expressed a “strong will to re-engage India in the RCEP Agreement". This free-trade pact was still open to us, the 15-nation club made it clear.

So far, India has been aloof on the ground that past regional pacts had yielded poor results and joining the RCEP would expose us to Beijing’s designs, as injuriously as a surfeit of imports from China and others. Our globalization strategy has changed, too, with domestic industry to be shielded by tariffs, even as a new campaign of industrial promotion is mounted for select sectors. So RCEP would now seem like a no-go. The East’s trade scenario, though, would look different if the US sought to reach out across the Pacific again. Biden’s policy stance on this isn’t clear yet, but a shift in global dynamics could present us with new options that must not be dismissed without a cost-benefit analysis.

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