** Sagar Sandesh print version ceases to be published from December 31, 2017. New look E-paper would be available from Jan. 1, 2018 onwards. free of cost.**

High level meeting to consider India’s stand at the Bangkok meeting to conclude the trade deal

Amidst concerns expressed by the Domestic Industry and Affiliates of the Sangh Parivar about the debilitating impact on our trade if India went ahead with signing the RCEP the trade agreement between the country and 10 ASEAN states besides China, Government of India held a high level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the pros and cons of the country entering the Mega trade pact.

The industry and the Parviar have flagged concerns that signing the agreement means opening the floodgates for flow of Chinese goods in the Indian market when the trade deficit with our neighbor have touched new high.

The meeting, attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, came ahead of a meeting of trade ministers of the 16 countries negotiating the RCEP in Bangkok during October 10-12.

Minister Goyal expected to participate in the Bangkok negotiations

Commerce Minister Goyal is expected to participate in the Bangkok negotiations, which will probably be the last meeting of the trade ministers of the proposed RCEP states — 10 members of Asean (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and its six FTA partners (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

A joint statement issued after the last such meeting in Thailand in September said ongoing global uncertainties had added to the urgency to conclude RCEP.

India may do a tight rope walking

There was no official word on the high level meeting conducted by the Prime Minister but indications are the country may do a tight rope walking because of their wide-ranging implications, particularly on Indian farmers and dairy cooperatives. The government has received several representations from the dairy industry about concerns on giving concessional access to Australia and New Zealand for supplying milk and milk products.

India for “auto trigger” safeguard when imports from China crossed a certain threshold

In recent months, ASEAN countries have proposed the text of RCEP could be finalized and signed this year, with contentious issues such as tariffs and market access to be taken up in an annexure   India has mooted an “auto trigger” safeguard that would come into play when imports, especially from China, crossed a certain threshold.

Under the proposed agreement, India is expected to reduce or eliminate duties on about 74 to 80 per cent of goods imported from China. .

The Department of Commerce has been consulting all stakeholders on matters related to RCEP and has had more than 100 consultations in the past six years that covered a wide spectrum of the economy, including agriculture, chemicals, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, textiles, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, automobiles and machinery..

Milk cooperatives have expressed concern over RCEP

Leading milk cooperatives have expressed concern over RCEP. Those who want India to sign RCEP may argue that giving access to a small country like New Zealand would not make much difference, but once they come in, the entire cooperative character of Indian milk supply chain will collapse. Small farmers with one or two cows would be the worst victims of these developments.

“RCEP will have impact at the village-level. It will impact farmers, Panchayats and local bodies. Therefore, India needs to do a lot more intense negotiations, to make it fair to the Indian industry according to sources.

Govt options for RCEP after consultations with the industry

Top BJP leaders also met stakeholders from the industry to seek their views at a roundtable at the party headquarters recently. A few proposals are under the consideration of the government following the wide ranging interaction the government and the party had with the Industry. They include to put-off the RCEP for some time, to have an agreement with safeguards, or to not sign at all.  India has a trade deficit of almost 55 billion US dollars with China and signing of RCEP will further increase the deficit.

RSS affiliates not for RCEP

RSS affiliates have argued that since RCEP requires members to cut their tariffs on a majority of products to zero, India would be adversely affected as it already has a trade deficit with 11 of the 16 nations

Copyright © 2019 PORT TO PORT - Shipping Services Portal ( Sagar Sandesh ). All rights reserved.

Follow Us