The ASEAN Secretariat has invited India to attend the meeting to sort out its issues related to the proposed free trade deal.
“India has received the invitation for the meeting. No decision has been taken on the issue,” said an official.
In November last year, India opted out of the RCEP after negotiating the pact with 15 other Asia-Pacific countries for seven years due to lack of reciprocity on its key demands on services market access, safeguards for import surge and circumvention of origin rules because of tariff differentials. New Delhi was also not satisfied with the proposals to counter its burgeoning trade deficit with China, which was feared to rise after the pact came into effect.
Officials said the commerce and industry ministry is yet to take a call on attending the meeting and has asked external affairs ministry to decide if New Delhi should participate.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar had last week said at the Raisina Dialogue that India had not closed its doors on the RCEP and would carry out a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate its merit. He said New Delhi would evaluate the RCEP on the basis of economic and trade merits.
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal has said that RCEP had become nothing but an India-China FTA, which nobody wants. To opt out of it was a “bold decision as for the first time it reflected the resolve of the government that diplomacy will not prevail over trade”.
Japan had reached out to New Delhi immediately after India’s exit to help address its concerns including those on trade deficit.
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