Tough negotiations ahead for RCEP

SINGAPORE, Sept 1: Issues have been identified and will have to be negotiated hard as India steps forward to participate in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), an Indian business leader said here Saturday.
“A weakening Chinese currency is a big issue,” said Rashesh Shah, President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) on the sidelines of the ongoing meetings related to RCEP and ASEAN-India.
Chinese exports are “very competitive”, he pointed out, adding that as of now the bilateral trade between India and China was heavily in favour of the latter.
But, India is open to being part of the RCEP, which is in the making of the world’s largest trade block and markets, covering more than three billion people, combining the population of India and China, with 650 million in ASEAN as well as those of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
“India is looking at a lot of FTAs (free trade agreements) and RCEP very closely,” said Shah who is part of the series of meetings going on in Singapore this weekend.
India, he said, cannot be absent from trade pacts. India has to be part of these linkages, he stressed.
“We are seeing all over the world that the multilateral agreements are weakening and you need a more regional bilateral agreements such as FTAs to ensure that there is a lot more access in each other’s markets,” he added.
He also said that Ficci member companies are supporting the country’s participation in RCEP.
Indian companies have started to make in-roads into China and are improving on their competitiveness as well as scaling up operations.
He sees Indian companies increasing shipments of auto components, pharma products and IT services to RCEP markets.
The Indian government, he said, had been actively consulting the local industries on export challenges, issues such as market access, connectivity and visas related issues.
Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, Jawed Ashraf, has twitted Saturday that “RCEP negotiations under the able leadership of Singapore as ASEAN Chair covered ground, but much work remains to be done by all members before November’s East Asia Summit in Singapore”. (PTI)