Goyal to attend RCEP meet in Bangkok as talks move towards scheduled conclusion

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 10, 2019 Published on October 10, 2019

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal

To hold bilaterals with China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to smooth out rough edges

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is leaving on Friday for Bangkok to give a final shape to the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact India is negotiating with the ASEAN, China and four other nations before the scheduled announcement of its conclusion next month.

“Commerce and Industry Minister will hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Japan, Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand during the Bangkok Ministerial,” according to an official release circulated by the Commerce Ministry on Thursday.

The bilaterals will be important as they could be the last opportunity for Ministers from participating countries to smooth out the rough edges before the scheduled conclusion of the negotiations by November 2019.

For Goyal, the bilateral meetings are especially significant as a large number of industrial sectors, the farm sector and the dairy sector have raised strong objections to the proposed tariff elimination under the RCEP as they fear a surge in imports after the pact is implemented.

While the industrial sector, which includes metals, engineering goods, textiles and heavy industry, is apprehensive of large scale imports from China once the tariff barriers are down, farmers and the dairy sector are equally concerned about increased inflows from Australia and New Zealand.

The 9th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial meeting, on October 11-12, will be the last Ministerial before the 3rd Leaders Summit to be held on November 4 in Bangkok to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

New Delhi is finding it difficult to accommodate all sensitive sectors under the sensitive list of goods to be insulated from tariff cuts as it is under pressure to eliminate import duties on more than 90 per cent of traded goods for the 10-member ASEAN, Japan and South Korea and more than 80 per cent of items for China, Australia and New Zealand, according to officials closely following the negotiations.

Out of the 25 chapters of RCEP, 21 chapters have been concluded, the release stated. “The crucial chapters of investment, electronic commerce, rules of origin and trade remedies are yet to be settled, the release said.

“Ministerial guidance will be sought on these issues during the Bangkok Ministerial round. The Ministers of participating countries will also be discussing preparations for the 3rd Leaders Summit,” the release added.

Published on October 10, 2019
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