India: RCEP nations offer India package to return to negotiating table

  • Members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership have offered India a package to return to the negotiating table, considering the country’s concerns over tariff base rates and special trade safeguards.
  • Members of the trade bloc urged India to convey its initial response to the package by 15 May 20 as the Indo-Pacific region braces for a post-Covid-19 economic order, ET has learnt.
  • The package comes after RCEP members said last month they would welcome India’s return to the negotiating table for entering the regional trade bloc. The RCEP package recognises India’s preference to use more recent most-favoured nation tariff rates than the 2014 base rates.
  • “The proponents would welcome updated market access offers from India using 2019 MFN tariffs on a limited number of products of concern to India to be negotiated bilaterally with RCEP Participating Countries… This is offered on the understanding that the outcome on market access, which will be achieved through bilateral negotiations, will remain balanced and that India’s tariff commitments will be acceptable to all,” according to the RCEP note on the package.
  • India opted out of the RCEP negotiations in 2019 after the group did not assuage its concerns over getting swamped by imports and putting its domestic industry and agriculture at risk.

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