New Delhi, Mar 2: Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday attended 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Intersessional Ministerial meeting in Cambodia.
The 16-member RCEP aims to cover among the issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
The meet reviewed the developments since the 2nd RCEP Summit on November 14, 2018 in Singapore, particularly the outcomes of the 2nd Special TNC Meeting held on January 25-26 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the 25th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee meeting and related meetings held on February 19-28, 2019 in Bali, Indonesia, a Commerce Ministry statement said here.
During the 16-member RCEP meet, the ministers recalled the leaders’ determination to conclude a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial RCEP in 2019, and resolved to exert utmost effort to achieve the target.
They all commended the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) for the good progress made to date on both market access and text-based negotiations but at the same time recognised that more work still needs to be done to advance both aspects of the negotiations.
The Ministers also urged all RPCs to address specific sensitivities while working towards achieving commercially meaningful outcomes. They remained confident that with collective commitment and pragmatism, the chapters and annexes that would comprise the RCEP Agreement can be concluded soon.
It is the collective responsibility of all RPCs to ensure progress by overcoming negotiation challenges and finding resolution to the remaining issues through constructive engagement, the statement read.
To ensure that progress is made towards meeting the Leaders’ target for conclusion in 2019, the Ministers agreed to intensify engagement for the remaining of the year, including by convening more intersessional meetings.
The Ministers also agreed to meet next at the 8th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting to be held after the 27th RCEP TNC Meeting and related meetings in July or August 2019.
RCEP bloc includes 10 countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six free trade pact partners namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
RCEP members want India to eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on maximum number of goods it traded with them. India's huge domestic market provides immense opportunity of exports for RCEP countries.
But lower level of ambitions in services and investments, a key area of interest for India, does not augur well for the agreement that seeks to be comprehensive in nature.