New Delhi, Dec 10: The Government on Tuesday said it had decided to opt out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as it would be unfair to the country's farmers and concerns.
Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, said India was demanding a level playing field, fair trade practices, transparency and market access. It also repeatedly cited serious concerns regarding non-tariff barriers to trade and opaqueness in the subsidy regime in some RCEP countries.
'Since RCEP in its current form did not adequately address our concerns, joining it would be unfair to our interests," he told the members saying that as India's concerns were not getting fully addressed, Prime MInister Narendra Modi took the considered position not to join the regional body. He pointed out that trade deals like RCEP must consider that countries with very different sizes and population, unequal levels of economic and human development. He said "during the meetings, we highlighted that India has a relatively low per capita GDP as compared to other RCEP countries, and there are concerns about the livelihood of our farmers and employment generation provided by the industrial sector, particularly the MSMEs."
The proposed free trade agreement was to be signed between 16 countries, including 10 ASEAN countries --Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Phillipines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and their six FTA partners --Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Stressing that India "consistently put its national interests to the fore during the negotiations in the past five and a half years,' he said, focused on its demand for a level playing field, fair trade practices, transparency and market access and wanted that all countries must ensure that the rules of origin were not circumvented.
He said the Government held regular stakeholder consultations with industry, exporters, trade experts, concerned ministries/departments and state governments for their inputs. (UNI)