Bangkok, Nov 3: A more practical but negative element has gradually seemed to have surfaced at the crucial negotiations for a major free trade pact - Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)- the trade and commerce ministers from 16 RCEP countries have failed to resolve the outstanding issues.
Apparently on the eve of all important Leaders Meet on Monday which will be attended also by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the 'optimism' has been replaced by concerned raised by several countries including India.
A statement may be issued after the Leaders Meet with a pledge to sign the pact within a specific timeline. "Overall, we are clear that a mutually beneficial RCEP, in which all sides gain reasonably, is in the interests of India and of all partners in the negotiation," Prime Minister has said in an interview to 'Bangkok Post'.
During two separate bilaterals between Mr Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Sunday, the RCEP issue is obviously understood to have figured. Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has meanwhile said: "Trade agreements are always challenging in terms of the different interests of different parties".
The RCEP deliberations in Bangkok have assumed significance in the backdrop of global trade tensions particularly due to conflicts between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and ten ASEAN nations are negotiating the RCEP deal for last many years.
A breakthrough in the deal will facilitate creation of the biggest free-trade region in recent times as the 16-nation grouping is home to 3.6 billion people which accounts for nearly half the world's population. Politically back home, the opposition parties in India have opposed RCEP deal. (UNI)