After the talks, RCEP is now a political call

(This story originally appeared in November 1, 2019) New Delhi: India is playing hard to protect its interests in the trade agreement (RCEP) before the trade ministers meeting of the 16 member countries on November 2 and 3 in Bangkok to see if an announcement can be made on the conclusion of the proposed agreement. at the Leaders Summit on November 4.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi He is expected to take the political call for India to join RCEP as part of the country's growing economic footprints in the Indo-Pacific region. Some possible member states of RCEP, including the G20 economies of Southeast Asia and East Asia, are interested in India's presence in RCEP amid fears that its absence will allow China to dominate the trade bloc.

India is seen as a balancing power in the block.

Officials said that although negotiations are almost complete for all the chapters, they are waiting for a political decision while India tries to balance its ties with Japan and China along with internal interests.

Negotiations to resolve outstanding issues at RCEP continue in Bangkok, said Vijay Thakur Singh, secretary (east) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA), adding that leaders will review the status of the negotiations.

“India will wait for the outcome of the negotiations on RCEP. Some critical issues are pending.

We will only participate in a fair and transparent business environment, he said.

Trade officials from India will meet in Bangkok on November 1, before the ASEAN summit.

Indian officials have concluded negotiations on the majority of the 25 chapters, and the rest will conclude before November 4, when Modi joins the leaders of the 10-member bloc and five other countries for the summit.

Negotiators are narrowing the gaps, including adequate protection against cheap Chinese imports that are feared to flood the Indian market, once the RCEP is concluded. Indian officials are discussing differences in some areas, such as rules of origin, electronic commerce, automatic activation mechanism and commercial remedies, before the summit.

Key concerns

New Delhi is pushing to be able to use an automatic activation mechanism that allows it to control sudden import increases from China more than once and also wants to change basic tariffs in addition to establishing strict rules of origin to ensure that only imported goods get tax concessions

“India is playing hard to secure its interests. We have made conservative offers, ”said an official.

It is said that India made conservative offers for the ten-day work plan of 14 issues that was compiled by member countries to accelerate the resolution of pending issues, wants to change the base year to eliminate tariffs on about 1,000 products from China to 2019 as of 2014.

Strong or weak rules of origin are irrelevant because once the deal is made, there will be no circumvention since everything will come from China legally and directly, said another official.

Separately, New Delhi also opposes making commitments on investment policy decisions at the municipal and panchayat levels.