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View: Staying out of RCEP gives India a chance to reflect on its competitiveness

While there are strong views against RCEP, there is equally a large number in favour of access to the largest market of the world. The one common point was that India’s issues and concerns needed a fair hearing by the other 15 RCEP member countries. Eventually, it boiled down to the fact that India’s issues remain unresolved.

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  • There was a fear that there would be a surge in imports from China. There is a problem with this argument.

    China is keen to include India in RCEP for its huge market opportunities and since India decided against joining at Bangkok, has been pushing for favourable climate for Delhi to join the block.

    Speaking at the Federation of Telangana Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy also referred to abrogation of Article 370 and said it was achieved without any violence.

    Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal will discuss outstanding bilateral issues with USTR when the two meet on November 13. This is Goyal’s second visit to the US in the last two months and comes close at the heels of India opting out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement

    If India gets firm indication that its core interests will be accommodated then it can rethink its decision.

    Immediate issues that need attention are likely to be discussed during the visit in the run up to a larger trade deal, sources said. While India and the US have ruled out any structural reason or major issue holding back a bilateral trade deal, the two have been embroiled in a series of trade spats, both bilaterally and at the World Trade Organization.

    China is so shaken by the ‘trade war’ with the US that its leadership’s ability to deal with US President Donald Trump is being watched very closely both in China and abroad. The signing of the 15-nation RCEP, which has Japan, Australia and South Korea as members, would be a show of muscle against Washington.

    Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister and top trade negotiator Wang Shouwen also expressed confidence that the differences would be resolved by the end of this year. Fifteen nations from the Asia-Pacific region – the 10 ASEAN nations plus Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – agreed on the outline of the trade pact on Monday.

    For years, India has shot down suggestions of a free trade agreement with the US and had denied that there was any move when President Donald Trump hinted at it a few months ago. It comes at a time when India and the US are seeking to cover the gap that separates the two sides on high tariffs on several products.

    New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor is likely to visit dairy giant Amul’s plant later this week to understand India’s dairy sector. Sources said Wellington is keen to understand how India’s cooperative dairy system works and the minister will visit all tiers of the cooperative system from the village societies.

    “India asked the other members to add the text on outstanding issues in their resolution,” an official told ET. The move was meant to showcase India’s influen​ce in the Asia Pacific grouping, the person said. While India is out of the RCEP trade pact as of now, the scope for talks to iron out pending issues remains, sources said.

    Big picture reforms will eradicate poverty, not small tweaks to programmes that botique RCTs provide.

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