India: RCEP negotiations unlikely to conclude by 2018: Suresh Prabhu

  • Negotiations for the mega-trade deal RCEP will continue in 2019 as more rounds of talks are required to sort out issues pertaining to goods and services, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said on 4 Sep 18.
  • Trade ministers of 16 members of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) met last week in Singapore to review the progress of negotiations.
  • Prabhu said that India in the Singapore meeting emphasised on three important issues, including establishing linkage of services to goods negotiations as the agreement is a comprehensive one and not focus only on goods.
  • The services sector is a key area for India as the segment accounts for about 55% of the country’s GDP.
  • He said that it is an economic partnership agreement and services must be an integral part of it.
  • “The RCEP negotiations will not end in 2018. It has been agreed at the level of leaders…it will go in 2019 as well and we will have opportunity to work on all the issues,” the minister told reporters here.
  • Prabhu said that the leaders in Singapore have also accepted the demand of India for having 20 years implementation period of the agreement.
  • The commerce ministry will also hold discussions with stakeholders on the inclusion of products.
  • Indian industry and exporters are apprehensive about the presence of China in the grouping. They have stated that lowering or eliminating duties for China may flood Indian markets with Chinese goods.
  • The ministers directed that the negotiations on all these issues will be intensified during the 24th RCEP Auckland Round from 17-24 Oct 18.

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