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India says not making any last minute demands at RCEP meet

The deal, which has so far faced opposition from industries due to fear of dumping of goods by China using the trade deal, has taken a political turn (Bloomberg file)Premium
The deal, which has so far faced opposition from industries due to fear of dumping of goods by China using the trade deal, has taken a political turn (Bloomberg file)

  • Officials of the 16 RCEP member states are currently engaged in hectic negotiations to clinch a deal by evening
  • RCEP is a proposed FTA between the 10 Asean member states and its six FTA partners including China, India, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia

New Delhi: To avoid being branded as a last minute “show spoiler", India on Monday said it is not making any fresh demands at the ongoing summit of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed free trade agreement. Officials of the 16 RCEP member states are currently engaged in hectic negotiations to clinch a deal by evening.

“Our position on this issue has been consistent and clear from the very beginning," a senior Indian government official said speaking under condition of anonymity.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its six FTA partners including China, India, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

In his interview with Bangkok Post published on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “We have put forward reasonable proposals in a clear manner and are engaged in negotiations with sincerity. We would like to see commensurate levels of ambition on services from many of our partners, even as we are ready to address their sensitivities. Overall, we are clear that a mutually beneficial RCEP, in which all sides gain reasonably, is in interests of India and of all partners in the negotiation".

Two of India’s proposals to shift the base year for tariff cuts to 2019 from 2014 and widening the scope of auto-trigger mechanism to check sudden surge in imports have been difficult to accommodate by other RCEP members.

The deal, which has so far faced opposition from industries due to fear of dumping of goods by China using the trade deal, has taken a political turn with many opposition parties, including Congress, speaking against the free trade agreement. “Make in India has become Buy from China. Each year we import 6000 worth of goods from China for every Indian! A 100% increase since 2014. #RCEP will flood India with cheap goods, resulting in millions of job losses & crippling the economy," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Monday.

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