PM to take stock of RCEP deal during Manila visit on Nov 12-14

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be travelling to Manila to attend the India-ASEAN meeting and East Asia Summit from November 12-14 and is expected to take stock of the progress made and discuss ways to move forward on the China-led mega trade deal — Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

During his visit, the Prime Minister will also discuss bilateral trade and investment issues with some countries within the 10-member ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) bloc consisting of Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, said Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), here on Thursday.

In his bilateral meetings with ASEAN countries, Modi will focus on taking stock of the progress being made and also the stumbling blocks at the ongoing RCEP talks being discussed among China, India, ASEAN, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, sources told BusinessLine.

RCEP talks were launched officially in 2012. However, since then they have faced several challenges and the countries are yet to finalise the products or tariff lines on which duties will be eliminated to boost greater trade in goods and services within the member countries.

The talks have moved at a snail’s pace due to India’s reluctance to offer greater duty cuts to Chinese goods. During the last round of negotiations held in South Korea, member countries failed to arrive at a definitive mandate to set the ball rolling during the Manila meet, sources said.

The summit-level meeting of RCEP leaders was preceded by a meeting of Trade Ministers from member countries.

Sources said during the Summit, Modi is expected to come under tremendous pressure to commit to deeper tariff cuts. The objective of having the RCEP is to eliminate duties on about 90 per cent of the traded tariff lines within the member countries.

Under pressure

Modi is also expected to raise the issue of tapping the full potential of the India-ASEAN goods Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was implemented in 2010 and the pact on services and investment that came into effect in 2015.

Published on November 09, 2017

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