Published: Tue, November 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

India decides against joining RCEP as key concerns remain unaddressed

India decides against joining RCEP as key concerns remain unaddressed

Modi conveyed the decision of India to opt out of the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement during the leaders' summit here. He said, it also does not address satisfactorily India's outstanding issues and concerns and in such a situation, it is not possible for India to join the RCEP Agreement. Briefing media persons shortly after the major development on the RCEP, Secretary (East) in the MEA Vijay Thakur Singh said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking on India's decision, highlighted that he was guided by the impact it would have on the lives and livelihood of all Indians, especially the vulnerable sections of the society.

"India [is] now open to be identified as the one RCEP country that has pending issues on rules and market access", said Lopez, who represented President Duterte during the RCEP summit.

Asked if there was a possibility of India joining the RCEP at a later stage, she only reiterated that India has decided not to be part of it.

"Today, when we look around we see during seven years of RCEP negotiations, many things, including the global economic and trade scenarios have changed". We can not overlook these changes.

India's decision will greatly help Indian farmers, MSMEs and dairy sector, the sources said.

An advantage for the other countries of having relative heavyweight India in the trade pact would have been less domination by China, particularly at a time they see the United States as a less reliable trade and security partner. Commerce ministers are still discussing outstanding issues.

But India will continue to be in RCEP talks and join the deal "when the country can reach a satisfactory resolution", he added.

Modi said Indian farmers, traders, professionals and industries have stakes in such decisions.

A diplomatic source in Bangkok told AFP India's inclusion in the deal is important to offset Beijing, the world's second biggest economy. India also asked for safeguard mechanisms to prevent against import surges and safeguard the interests of domestic industry.

For now, only 15 RCEP nations have concluded the text based negotiations for the 20 chapters and essentially all their market access issues. They have been tasked to do the legal scrubbing so that the deal can be signed in 2020. India also had very valid concerns on keeping 2014 as the base year for tariff reductions.

Fears linger that India will withdraw from the RCEP framework altogether if negotiations do not move forward, the sources added.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) includes all 10 Southeast Asian countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) includes 30 per cent of global GDP and half of the world's people.

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