India remains part of Asean-led trade pact talks: Minister

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said India remains part of the Asean-led talks for a regional trade agreement with six other countries and that the next round of dialogue was due to be held in Australia from this week-end.

“The RCEP negotiations are happening in detail,” Sitharaman said in a tweet on Wednesday morning, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) proposed between the 10 Asean members with six countries — Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

“India participating in the next round beginning April 24, 2016, at Sydney, Australia.”

The tweets came in reaction to a media report that the negotiating team for the accord had found India to be obstructionist and had asked New Delhi to either agree to eliminate tariffs on all products or leave the talks on the proposed free trade agreement.

“We’ve made our offers for goods and services. Are being discussed. ‘India has been told…to leave the talks…?’ Shocked to say the least!” the commerce minister tweeted.

The 10 nation Asean grouping of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, already has free trade agreements with each of the six countries with which the regional accord is proposed.

The negotiations were launched in November 2012 at the Cambodia Asean Summit.

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