India, Japan discuss bilateral trade imbalance, RCEP pact

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 10, 2019

India and Japan discussed the rising bilateral trade imbalance between the two countries as well as New Delhi’s concerns on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact at a meeting of the Trade Ministers of both the countries on Tuesday.

Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Hiroshi Kajiyama assured his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal that all attempts will be made by the other members of the RCEP to address India’s concerns, a person aware of the meeting told BusinessLine.

India’s concerns are likely to be discussed by all RCEP members, including the 10-member ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, later to see if a satisfactory way to resolve them could be arrived at, the person said. New Delhi’s key concern mostly relate to opening up markets for its main competitor China, as the local industry is opposed to it.

Level-playing field

In a statement made in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, on India’s position in the RCEP negotiations, Goyal said New Delhi had focused on its demand for a level playing field, fair trade practices, transparency and market access. “We also repeatedly cited serious concerns regarding the non-tariff barriers to trade, and opaqueness in the subsidy regime in some RCEP countries, and sought credible resolution of such issues. In addition, to be able to take advantage of regional value chains, all countries must ensure that the rules of origin are not circumvented,” Goyal said.

“Since RCEP, in its current form, did not adequately address our concerns, joining it would be unfair to our interests,” the Minister added. The RCEP pact seeks to reduce to zero the tariffs on more than 90 per cent items traded between the member countries.

Goyal raised the issue of trade deficit between India and Japan and the review of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries in his meeting with Kajiyama.

Balancing trade

Goyal said that balancing trade is a high priority for India with all partners, according to an official release. Similarly, market access for India’s goods and services with partner countries is very important but despite commitments in CEPA from Japan, market access for India’s goods and services remains elusive, he added.

Published on December 10, 2019

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