India has decided to not join the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal on grounds that its key concerns over the agreement have not been addressed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Bangkok that the current form of the RCEP Agreement “does not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles” or India’s concerns.
Citing the country’s farmers, traders, professionals and industries, and workers and consumers, who have a stake in such decisions, he said:
“When I measure the RCEP Agreement with respect to the interests of all Indians, I do not get a positive answer. Therefore, neither the Talisman of Gandhiji nor my own conscience permits me to join the RCEP,” Modi was quoted as saying, citing the concerns of Indian industry, farmers, traders and consumers.
India also raised concerns about having the Most Favoured Nation status among member countries, as the benefit would then lose its edge in case of nations beyond the bloc.
RCEP is backed by China and also brings in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. tariffs.
India, keen to lower its massive trade deficit with Beijing, is worried that a gradual elimination of tariffs would open its markets to a flood of cheap Chinese goods and agricultural produce from Australia and New Zealand that would harm its economy.
The BJP’s ideologue, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), as well as key opposition parties had raised concerns about the trade deal, which they fear would hit the domestic industry hard.