India: Govt conducts talks with stakeholders in run-up to end-Aug 18 RCEP meeting

  • A group of ministers (GoM) set up to recommend whether India should continue to be part of the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is likely to meet on 14 Aug 18, even as officials from various departments shared their concerns on the proposed pact with senior commerce department officials on 10 Aug 18.
  • While the steel ministry has already aired its fears on India becoming a secondary market for steel imports from China, the agriculture ministry is wary of dairy products coming in from New Zealand.
  • India is holding comprehensive stakeholder consultations with industry as well as different ministries and departments on the pact as the grouping includes China, with which India has a huge trade deficit.
  • Trade ministers of RCEP member countries, including India and China, will hold a crucial meeting in Singapore on 30-31 Aug 18 to move the negotiations further.
  • Sectors including textiles, steel and food processing have raised serious objections over removal or significant reduction of customs duties on these items under the pact. They want these segments to be out of the purview of RCEP.
  • They have apprehensions that removal of duties would led to flooding of Chinese goods in the Indian market. Without any free trade agreement, India already has a trade deficit of USD63bn in FY18 with China as compared to USD51bn in FY17.
  • An informal group of ministers, headed by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, is also holding deliberations on the concerns of the industry.
  • Pressure is mounting on India for early conclusion of the negotiation despite the fact that no member is showing flexibility in its stand.
  • RCEP members want India to eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on maximum number of goods it traded globally. India’s huge domestic market provides immense opportunity of exports for RCEP countries.
  • But lower level of ambitions in services and investments, a key area of interest for India, does not augur well for the agreement that seeks to be comprehensive in nature.
  • India wants certain deviations for such countries. Under deviations, India may propose a longer duration for either reduction or elimination of import duties for such countries.
  • Under services, India wants greater market access for its professionals in the proposed agreement. India wants to have a balanced RECP trade agreement as it would cover 40% of the global GDP and over 42% of the world’s population.

External Link: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/group-of-ministers-on-rcep-likely-to-meet-on-august-14/articleshow/65380836.cms

External Link: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/rcep-trade-ministers-to-meet-on-aug-30-31-in-singapore/articleshow/65373775.cms

13-Aug-2018


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