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Looking forward to RCEP deal at earliest: Nirmala Sitharaman

RCEP negotiations have already missed the 2015 deadline for conclusion. The next round of RCEP talks is in Perth, Australia, from April 22

India has submitted its offers for the proposed 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and is looking forward to an early conclusion of such negotiations, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.

“India is keen on having these regional arrangements. We look forward to concluding the RCEP at the earliest,” she said at an event.

The next round of RCEP talks are in Perth, Australia from April 22.

Though India is keen on an early clinching of a deal, sources had earlier told FE that the RCEP talks might stretch longer due to a lack of consensus over services. Some members are unwilling to show flexibility in discussing liberalisation of the services sector, and are instead seeking more relaxation in goods, while India wants a greater commitment from them on services, as it has shown in offering to remove barriers in goods trade.

The RCEP negotiations have already missed the 2015 deadline for conclusion, even as pressure piles up on the bloc to clinch a deal following the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the US and 11 others.

The RCEP negotiations formally began in November 2012 and members expect it to be concluded by September this year.

India is learnt to have offered to abolish 80% of tariff lines for 10 Asean members for goods imports, 65% of tariff lines for Japan and South Korea, and 42.5% for China.

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