India's concerns must be fully addressed, the prime minister says before the RCEP meeting in Bangkok

NEW DELHI: While the fate of the 16 nations sways, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi He said that India will consider whether its concerns and interests in the trade of goods, services and investments are being fully accommodated in the proposed pact before accepting it.

The prime minister said that India had presented reasonable proposals and that it was important to address its concerns for a comprehensive and balanced agreement.

Modi, who went to Bangkok early Saturday to participate in Asean , East Asia and RCEP summits, made the remark in his departure statement here. Later, in an interview to a Bangkok daily, Modi said addressing India's concerns over unsustainable trade deficits is important to ensure a balanced agreement.

It is necessary to recognize that the opening of the vast Indian market must coincide with the openings in some areas where our businesses can also benefit, he added.

While other countries have accused India of dragging its feet on the agreement, which was expected to be signed in Bangkok, Modi said India had put forward “reasonable proposals '' in a clear manner and is engaged in the negotiations with sincerity.

“We would like to see proportional levels of ambition in the services of many of our partners, even when we are ready to address their sensibilities. Overall, we are clear that a mutually beneficial RCEP, in which all parties earn reasonably, is in the interest of India and all partners in the negotiation, he said.

Agency reports from Bangkok quoted diplomats from RCEP countries as saying there was a “very high possibility of inking the deal at the bloc's summit on Monday if India agreed to be a part of it. India though believes that there are critical issues which need to be resolved.

“India remains committed to a comprehensive and balanced outcome of the ongoing negotiations of RCEP. Your successful conclusion interests everyone involved. Therefore, India seeks the balance between goods, services and investments, and also within each pillar, Modi said in his interview, adding that he expected a beneficial outcome for all of the talks.

Modi also complimented Asean for its outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which, he said, has significant convergence with India's Indo-Pacific vision.

“Maritime security, connectivity, economic growth and are priority areas both in our and Asean's approaches to build a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. We will be glad to work with our partners in Asean to progress partnership in achieving these objectives, he said.

Modi also said that India attaches great importance to the Bengal Bay Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation ().

It constitutes a unique link between South Asia and Southeast Asia with five members from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two from Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand)," he added.

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