India readies list of products for sops as crucial RCEP meet nears

  • Policymakers will soon take a call on India’s position in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement, negotiations for which have entered the final stage.
  • New Delhi has begun drawing up a list of products on which it can offer duty concessions to the 15 other Asia Pacific member countries, including China.
  • In India, there is apprehension among government departments and industry that a trade deal on the current terms will lead to China dumping goods in India. The ministries of steel, agriculture and chemicals, and executives of industries such as dairy, steel, copper, textiles, aluminium, engineering, pharmaceuticals, leather and food, have expressed their reservations on it.
  • In Aug 19, amid pressure to conclude the deal in 2019, New Delhi had said that an RCEP agreement will be acceptable only if it addresses the existing level of trade imbalance, especially with China.
  • India’s trade deficit with the 16-member trade grouping is USD105.2bn, of which USD53.6bn is with China.
  • India had then insisted that RCEP negotiations cannot conclude until its demands on duty cuts and cross-border movement of professionals are met, especially removal of restrictions by China for its Information Technology Companies.
  • “There should be certain safeguards that India should ensure before concluding the deal. These can be longer staging period, keeping products in which we can’t get competitive out of preferential access, and ensuring that India becomes part of the larger value chain,” said a Delhi-based expert on trade

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