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TPP not a threat: Sitharaman

N Ramakrishnan Visakhapatnam | Updated on January 19, 2018

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‘India will go ahead and sign RCEPs’

Regionalism is here to stay, said Shishir Priyadarshi, Director, World Trade Organization, but regional trade agreements (RTAs) should be made more open right from the beginning to more entrants.

He was making this point at a plenary session on “multilateralism versus regionalism: the future of global trade” at the ongoing CII Partnership Summit here.

More than 600 RTAs have been notified with the WTO, pointing to increasing regional trade between member countries of the WTO. “We should not be looking at this versus that (multilateralism versus regionalism). Instead, we should try to forge a win-win situation between multilateralism and regionalism,” he said.

The RTAs played an important role in increasing global trade. Significantly, countries were gradually moving away from making whole products to making parts that would ultimately go into a product, linked through RTAs. This is where states like Andhra Pradesh, which were planning major initiatives to boost manufacturing, could gain, by linking the various parts of the production cycle. The States would also require market awareness and market information.

Transparency needed

Priyadarshi said as RTAs increased, there was a need for greater transparency in the way decisions in were taken on such agreements.

Explaining India’s stand vis-à-vis the WTO and regional trade agreements, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India believed in multilateralism and was committed to the WTO. At the same time, she said, India was not being isolated by regional pacts and was taking steps to ensure its manufacturers had market access.

She asserted that India was very much aware of the various regional pacts were being signed and was conscious of what needed to be done.

For example, there was a perception that India was being kept out of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), which had diverse members from different parts of the world, including Peru, Mexico, Vietnam, the US, Japan and Brunei. What is regional about this, she asked.

Sitharaman said the TPP had not passed through any of the parliaments of the signatories and some of them had been given 20-25 years to adapt to the TPP. “Let us not worry,” she said.

India was going ahead with the signing of RCEPs (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships) and some of the members of these partnerships were part of the TPP. She assured that India would not lose out on markets.

The Cabinet recently decided to focus on South East Asia — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It decided to create a fund that would help Indian companies invest in these countries. By doing this, once the TPP came into full force, Indian companies having a presence in Vietnam, for instance, could tap into the TPP market, as the rules or origin provision would be taken care of.

Published on January 11, 2016

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