Bangkok, Nov 1 : Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal met the Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen here on Friday and discussed balancing trade between the two countries while curbing market-distorting trade practices.
Two-way trade between China and India reached $95.54 billion in 2018, with the trade deficit at $53 billion in China's favour. The commerce minister's meeting came ahead of the 16th ASEAN-India summit, 14th East Asia Summit and 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) summit from November 2-4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the ASEAN-India, East Asia and RCEP summits, and related events. All eyes this year is on RCEP, a proposed mega trade pact between the ASEAN and their six free trade partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Negotiators of the 16 countries have been engaged in a series of talks through October before the RCEP summit here on Nov 4.
The seven-year negotiations have entered the crucial stage, with officials from a number of negotiating parties sounding an optimistic note of sealing the deal soon.
India has some “critical” unresolved issues with the RCEP. The government on Thursday hoped that negotiations over the weekend will “clarify” matters. India has been most worried about the impact of RCEP on steel, dairy and agricultural sectors. Government negotiators have also taken a firm stand on including the free movement of labour for the services industry.
RCEP economies account for 29.1 per cent of global trade and about one-third of global investment inflows. Once in operation, it will become the world's largest free trade agreement, covering 32.2 per cent of global GDP and 3.5 billion people, or almost half of the world's population. In other interactions, Goyal had a discussion with Chan Chun Sing, Minister of Trade and Industry of Singapore, Thailand on promoting investment and improving trade ties between the two nations for mutual economic growth.
He also met Hideki Makihara, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, and spoke about the common goal shared by the two nations of strengthening trade and investment. With Damien O Connor, Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth of New Zealand, he discussed enhancing trade cooperation while taking into account concerns of the Indian farmers and the dairy sector. Leaders of the 10 member countries of ASEAN will meet on Saturday and Sunday, and attend the East Asia Summit on Monday that includes officials from its six dialogue partners including India. (UNI)