Any ‘further decision’ on RCEP can be taken only if other members address our concerns, says MEA

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 07, 2019

‘Rules of Origin’ and base rate year for duty were some of the sticking points

After announcing earlier this week that India had exited the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, the Ministry of External Affairs has now said that if the country gets a firm indication that its core concerns would get addressed by other members, it could consider taking a further decision on the matter.

“I think our concerns and requests are available with other members of the RCEP. We have said that we have negotiated with a very clear view of our interests. If we get a firm indication that our core interests will be accommodated, at that stage we can think of taking any further decision on this matter,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said answering a question at a briefing on Thursday.

After the RCEP Leaders Summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangkok on Monday, the MEA Secretary (East) addressed a media briefing where she said that India had decided to exit the RCEP as the country’s core concerns remained unaddressed.

The joint statement issued at the end of the Summit, however, stated that all RCEP participating countries will work together to resolve India’s outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way and the country’s final decision will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues.

Interestingly, New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade Damien O’Connor, who visited India this week, also said that the 15 RCEP countries had agreed to work with India on its sensitivities before the final agreement.

But there is yet no clarity on how the other RCEP members would negotiate with India on its remaining concerns.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal identified some of the problems that India had with the proposed RCEP pact in its current shape. An important concern was the ‘rules of origin’ (ROO) which determine how much value should be added to an item in the last country from where it is exported. India wants strict ROO to ensure that Chinese goods, with higher duties, do not enter India’s markets through other member countries where the tariffs may be lower.

India is also demanding that the base rate of duty (for calculating tariff cuts) should be 2019 instead of 2014 as those rates were not relevant any more.

Additionally, India is demanding that an adequate Auto Trigger Safeguard Mechanism should be put in place to prevent dumping of cheap imports and import surges. The country also does not want to accept ‘ratchet’ obligation in the investment chapter that would stop it from changing its existing rules.

Published on November 07, 2019

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