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India may rejoin RCEP if demands met, says Minister

India may get back at the negotiating table for RCEP only if its demands—including extra safeguard mechanism to curb the irrational spike in imports and tougher rules on the origin of imported products—are adequately addressed, said Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Piyush Goyal, as per a report.

The government has also initiated the process of renegotiating the pacts, especially with ASEAN. When the ASEAN FTA was signed, India scrapped import tariffs on 74 per cent of products but some others didn’t commit that much, the report said.

India unwilling to budge on its demand on an “auto-trigger” mechanism 

India is unwilling to budge on its demand on an “auto-trigger” mechanism for safeguarding the domestic industry from dumping, despite pressure from partners. Also, it has been steadfast in demanding credible steps to address India’s $ 105-billion trade deficit with RCEP members, a more balanced deal on services, strict rules of origins of products to check the abuse of tariff concessions and change in the base year to implement the tariff abolition from 2014 to 2019. Moreover, India seems to want its agriculture and dairy sector out of the RCEP negotiations, said the report.

Members of the grouping are prepared to work together to address New Delhi’s concerns:China 

Meanwhile, after India decided not to join the China-backed RCEP deal, Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister and top trade negotiator Mr Wang Shouwen played down the decision, saying the members of the grouping are prepared to work together to address New Delhi’s concerns and that the differences would be resolved soon.

He said that China and the 14 other member states respected India’s outstanding concerns and they are prepared to work together to address them. “We must, together with India, work hard to solve these problems. India must decide on the basis of this resolution whether to enter into the agreement.” The current member states would settle the few remaining questions around market access before the end of the year, he added, as per the report.


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