India will not be part of the the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In this address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the present form of the RCEP Agreement “does not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles” or India’s concerns.
There were indications that the 16 nations which would be part of the world’s largest free trade pact, may go ahead without India to announce a provisional agreement amid trade tensions continue between the US and China, pushing economic growth in the region to its lowest in five years. The deal is expected to be signed next year.
Citing the country’s farmers, traders, professionals and industries, and workers and consumers, who have a stake in such decisions, he said: “When I measure the RCEP Agreement with respect to the interests of all Indians, I do not get a positive answer. Therefore, neither the Talisman of Gandhiji nor my conscience permits me to join the RCEP“.
India has been forcefully raising the issue of market access and tariffs amid concern that the country might be flooded with cheap Chinese agricultural and industrial products once the deal is signed.
Sources said India was consistent in raising its concerns from Day One during the RCEP negotiations. The issues flagged included possible circumvention of Rules of Origin, trade deficits, opening of services and safeguard mechanisms to prevent import surges and protect the domestic industry.
India also raised concerns about having Most Favoured Nation status among member countries as the benefit would then lose its edge in case of nations beyond the bloc.
The opposition Congress and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, have regularly expressed reservations about the deal.