Industry not convinced that RCEP will create win-win situation for all: Commerce Minister


NEW DELHI: The domestic industry is not convinced that the proposed mega free-trade agreement RCEP will create a win-win situation for all, the commerce ministry said Tuesday.

Issues were flagged in a meeting in the India-ASEAN Troika Trade Ministers’ meeting here.

It was an informal consultation on the ongoing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


“Market access issues with China for Indian goods have been particularly problematic. Indian Industry is not convinced that RCEP will create a win-win situation for all by ensuring balanced outcomes in across the key pillars, particularly goods and services,” the ministry said in a statement.

In the meeting, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said there is apprehension and pessimism in the Indian industry about the impact of previous free-trade agreements.

India made asymmetrical sacrifice in goods, giving much more than it received, he said.

He added that the promise of commensurate offers in services subsequently by ASEAN countries did not fructify.

“The surge in goods imports into India is accentuated by instances of non-adherence to the rules of origin provisions and lack of full cooperation in investigating and addressing such breaches,” the ministry said.

It added that the utilisation of preferential tariffs by India under the India-ASEAN FTA is below 30 per cent because of standards, regulatory measures and other non-tariff barriers in the region.

Market access issues with China for Indian goods have been particularly problematic, it said.

The minister emphasised on adherence to the RCEP-guiding principles to balance high ambition on goods tariff reduction with addressing of sensitivities in bilateral parings like India-China through temporary and permanent deviations/ exclusions becomes important.

Quoting minister, it said India looks at RCEP as a logical extension of its Act East Policy and it holds enormous potential for economic growth and stability for the entire region.

He said that in the 26th round of RCEP negotiations at the experts level, which has concluded recently in Melbourne, some progress has been achieved with member countries showing a degree of flexibility and accommodation.

“India too has shown significant flexibility during the negotiations and helped to achieve convergence in few important areas,” it said adding two more chapters are close to conclusion, which will take the number to nine of the total 16 chapters.

He has expressed hope that the negotiations will achieve even greater convergence during the coming rounds in China and Vietnam.

The minister also stressed on possible mechanism to address persistent and wide imbalances in trade to give comfort to stakeholders.

Services negotiations must also target commensurate levels of ambition, with offers covering most sub-sectors of interest in all modes in a binding manner, the statement said.

RCEP bloc comprises 10 Asean group members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Besides Goyal, the meeting was attended by Acting Minister of Commerce of Thailand Chutima Bunyapraphasara, Minister of Trade of Indonesia Enggartiasto Lukita, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi and TNC Chair of RCEP Iman Pambagyo.

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