India to positively engage, but wants RCEP to be equitable
India said today it will positively engage in the negotiations of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal but wants it to be equitable and mutually acceptable, a senior official said today. The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN nations – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei – and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Twenty rounds of negotiations for the deal have concluded, but the 16 participants are yet to resolve issues, including on reaching the final number of goods on which taxes will be eliminated and on matters pertaining to the services sector. “In any negotiation, we must remember that it has to be equitable and mutually acceptable. We participated in RCEP negotiations in the hope of a balanced and equitable outcome – where there is positives on both sides.
We will remain positively engaged in the negotiations and hope for a positive outcome,” Preeti Saran, secretary (east), in the Ministry of External Affairs told reporters here. Talks for the pact had started in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in November 2012. India has already implemented a free trade agreement with the ASEAN grouping, Japan and South Korea. And, it was negotiating similar agreements with Australia and New Zealand. Saran said India will be happy to review the free trade agreement with ASEAN in the next round of discussion.