India reiterates commitment to RCEP trade pact

New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) India on Monday reiterated its commitment to work with other countries to conclude a mutually acceptable Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

This was conveyed by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is leading the Indian delegation to the RCEP’s ongoing inter-sessional ministerial and related meetings taking place in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, India’s commerce ministry said in a statement here.

“She reiterated the importance attached by India to RCEP negotiations and conveyed India’s continued commitment to work with other countries to conclude a mutually acceptable RCEP agreement,” it said.

This meeting of trade ministers is being held prior to the next round of RCEP negotiations that are scheduled to take place in the Myanmarese capital of Nay Pyi Taw early next month. The earlier round of talks took place in Japan in June.

Launched in 2012, RCEP comprises the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – and six of its free trade partners – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Though India is keen on concluding the RCEP, its domestic industry, particularly the steel sector, is opposed as it entails giving tariff concessions to China and other competitors.

“Travelling – on my way to Kuala Lumpur for RCEP negotiations,” Sitharaman tweeted earlier.

She also met her Malaysian counterpart Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed on Monday.

“The two ministers discussed issues relating to the ongoing RCEP negotiations as well as ways and means to enhance bilateral trade and investment,” the commerce ministry statement said.

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