New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that India looks at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as a logical extension of its ‘Act East’ Policy.
In his address at the India-Asean Troika Trade Ministers’ meeting which was held here for informal consultations on RCEP, he said that the RCEP holds enormous potential for economic growth and stability for the entire region.
The minister, who also holds the Railways portfolio, pointed out that some progress has been achieved with member countries showing a degree of flexibility and accommodation at the 26th round of RCEP negotiations at the experts level, which recently concluded in Melbourne.
Goyal elaborated that India has shown significant flexibility during the negotiations and helped to achieve convergence in few important areas.
However, he stressed that there is apprehension and pessimism in Indian industry about the impact of previous Free Trade Agreements as India made asymmetrical sacrifice in goods, giving much more than it received.
“He also stressed on possible mechanism to address persistent and wide imbalances in trade to give comfort to stakeholders,” the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said in a statement.
“Services negotiations must also target commensurate levels of ambition, with offers covering most sub-sectors of interest in all modes in a binding manner.”
The mega free trade agreement — RCEP — is currently being negotiated between Asean member states — Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The RCEP negotiations include trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce and small and medium enterprises, among others.