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Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI file)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI file)

India seeks more flexibility on market access issues at Beijing RCEP Ministerial

  • Over two thirds of market access negotiations have reached mutually satisfactory outcomes
  • The next round of inter-sessional trade negotiating meeting will be held in Jakarta later this month

New Delhi: India on Saturday called for greater flexibility from member countries in addressing its market access concerns as trade ministers called for stepping up efforts to conclude the ongoing RCEP trade negotiations by the year end.

“The Commerce Secretary Dr. Anup Wadhawan led a delegation to the 8th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial meeting held in Beijing on 2-3 August 2019. During the meeting he highlighted India’s contribution in shaping the RCEP negotiations till date. He advocated a spirit of understanding accommodation and flexibility towards reaching balanced outcome in the negotiations. India’s concerns regarding market access and other issues leading to imbalanced trade between some of the partner countries was specifically flagged during the meetings," a statement by India’s commerce ministry said on Saturday.

India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal after holding marathon meetings with industry representatives on RCEP did not attend the ministerial “to attend the extended Parliament session." However, his absence is widely seen as India’s unpreparedness to conclude negotiations this year, given the domestic industry’s warning that China could overwhelm India’s manufacturing sector through dumping of cheaper goods.

“The RCEP ministerial meeting, which had continued since the morning, was closed. The details of the discussion cannot be stated because it is being negotiated with other countries, but the progress made at this meeting is significant, and it can be said that it has made great progress toward the conclusion of the year," Japan’s trade minister Hiroshige Seko tweeted on Saturday.

“Steady progress on RCEP discussions this weekend with negotiations on track to conclude this year. This trade deal will deliver significant new opportunities for farmers & businesses as well as further integrate our region," Simon Birmingham, Australian trade minister tweeted.

A joint statement issued after conclusion of the Ministerial said that over two thirds of market access negotiations have reached mutually satisfactory outcomes, and that work on the remaining areas are being intensified through constructive engagements at all levels. “Determined to keep the momentum towards achieving the Leaders’ mandate to conclude the RCEP negotiations by the end of the year, the Ministers called on all RPCs (RCEP Participating Countries) to find pragmatic and solution oriented approaches to narrow divergence on the various remaining issues," it added.

The next round of inter-sessional trade negotiating meeting will be held in Jakarta later this month while the 7th RCEP ministerial will be convened in Bangkok in September.

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