New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has again said that India opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) because it saw that the trade deal would have adverse consequence for Asia’s third largest economy.
“We took a call that given the way it is currently, it is not in our interest to enter this agreement because it would have fairly immediate negative consequences for our own economy,” he said.
Jaishankar’s comments came in the midst of criticism of the government’s decision from some domestic trade and diplomatic circles.
“Essentially, we saw that a number of our key concerns were not addressed. We had to then take a call whether you enter a trade agreement if your major concerns are not addressed, or do you take a call saying
“…you are negotiating does not mean you have to suspend your ability to calculate at the end of the negotiation. I think we made those calculations.”
However, he added, “very frankly, what we did with regard to RCEP is not a generic position vis-a-vis trade. ”
The Minister was participating in an web discussion organised by the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies on Wednesday.
Last Sunday, ten member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of their dialogue partners signed the RCEP agreement creating the world’s largest free trade block, after eight years of negotiations. India pulled out of the trade talks on the seventh year, 2017.
For India, the unmet concerns were inadequate protection against import surge, especially from China, lack of credible assurances to India on market access, non-tariff barriers and possible circumvention of rules of origin by certain countries.