India decides not to join RCEP; says, this free trade agreement doesn’t address concerns

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Updated: November 4, 2019 7:22:28 PM

Ending days of speculation, India on Monday decided not to join Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

India, faceless tax assessment regime, tax, tax collection, PM Modi, narendra modiPrime Minister Narendra Modi held the view that RCEP doesn’t reflect its original intent. (ANI Image)

Ending days of speculation, India on Monday decided not to join Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. India has significant core interests that remain unresolved in the current RCEP agreement, MEA Secretary (East), Vijay Thakur Singh said at the press conference at the RCEP Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was guided by the impact that the RECP joining decision will have on all Indians especially the vulnerable section of the society, she added. Right decision not to join RCEP was taken in the national interest, she noted.

“Present form of the RCEP Agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirit and agreed guiding principles of RCEP,” Modi was quoted saying by Indian public broadcaster Prasar Bharati News Services in a tweet. “It does not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns.”The RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN nations and six of its FTA (free trade agreement) partners – China, India, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand. The RCEP aims to facilitate the creation of the biggest free-trade region in the world as the 16-nation grouping is home to 3.6 billion people or nearly half the population which resides in the world.

Also read: India among most vulnerable to climate change; poor air quality threatens economic development

On Saturday, the trade ministers from 16 RCEP countries failed to resolve the outstanding issues identified by India, though back-channel talks continued on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit to resolve the sticky issues. India has been forcefully raising the issue of market access as well as protected lists of goods mainly to shield its domestic market as there have been fears that the country may be flooded with cheap Chinese agricultural and industrial products once it signs the deal.

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