RCEP Bangkok Ministerial: Talks on investment, e-commerce, trade remedies yet to be settled

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New Delhi | Published: October 11, 2019 2:28:48 AM

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal will attend the RCEP ministerial in Bangkok on October 11 and 12.

Goyal will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Japan, Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand during the Bangkok ministerial (PTI/File Photo)

Negotiations on four of the critical chapters — investment, e-commerce, rules of origin and trade remedies — for the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement are yet to be settled, although talks on as many as 21 of the 25 chapters have been concluded.

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal will attend the last ministerial meeting of the RCEP grouping, which will be held in Bangkok on October 11 and 12. This will be followed by a summit of the leaders of the 16 member-nations on November 4, where the mega trade deal is expected to be announced. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the leaders’ summit, according to an official statement.

The Bangkok ministerial will provide guidance to the four remaining chapters of negotiations and review the preparation for the leaders’ summit next month. Goyal will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Japan, Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand during the Bangkok ministerial, according to the statement.

Before the ministerial, Goyal has already held several consultations with domestic industry for firming up India’s strategy at the RCEP, amid industry’s concerns that cheaper imports from countries like China will flood the Indian markets if the RCEP deal is clinched.

“The focus and emphasis of the meetings chaired by the commerce and industry minister was on putting in place appropriate safeguards, including auto-trigger mechanism against sudden surge in imports from RCEP countries,” the statement added.

A source had earlier told FE that India was planning to employ an ‘auto-trigger’ safeguard mechanism for imports from not just China but also Australia and New Zealand to better protect domestic players from irrational spike in imports.

This mechanism will typically come into play once imports of a particular sensitive product breaches a stipulated limit. The concessional duty under RCEP will then be scrapped for that item and the normal duty will apply.

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