A day after China centered Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact of 15 nations got ratified, senior government officials have refuted rumors of India re-joining the pact, and said that India will rather focus on large markets like the US and the EU, according to a report by Financial Express. India will refrain from joining any pact that is effectively “free trade agreement (FTA) by stealth with China”, one of the officials said, making clear New Delhi’s anxiety over joining back the RCEP bloc. The focus is on not just free but also fair trade, he added.
India’s decision comes at a time when Joseph R Biden’s election as the 46th American President
has revived the prospect of the US’ re-entry into the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with 11 others. Any such move, on top of the RCEP deal, will pressure New Delhi to redraw its trade ties to avoid being left behind in integrating with global supply chain, analysts have said.
The RCEP (with India) was meant to encompass less than a third of global gross domestic product (GDP), while the TPP, with the US, was to cover 40 percent of it. The TPP, negotiated by the Obama regime and rejected by Donald Trump, was an attempt at countering China’s growing clout in world trade.
India had pulled out of the RCEP talks in Bangkok on November 4 last year and based its return on adequate redressal of its concerns. New Delhi was unwilling to budge on its demands for an “auto-trigger” mechanism for safeguarding its industry from dumping, and strict rules of origins of imported products to check the abuse of tariff concessions.
Also, New Delhi was steadfast in certain demands, including credible steps and market access to address India’s $105-billion trade deficit with RCEP members, change in the base year to implement the tariff abolition from 2014 to 2019 and a more balanced deal on services. (Source: Financial Express)