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IIFT, FIEO, Experts, Swadeshi Jagran Manch hail Modi govt decision to not join RCEP

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New Delhi, Nov 04: Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), FIEO (Federation of Indian Export Organisation) and RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) welcomed the PM Modi-led government's decision of not signing the China-backed mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

India's decision to not join the mega free-trade agreement RCEP would help protect interests of domestic industry against unfair competition, according to trade experts. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega free-trade pact being negotiated among 16 countries.

The members were 10-nation bloc ASEAN, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The experts stated that the government's decision to not join this pact vindicates the concerns of domestic industry from sectors such as dairy and metal.

There were raging protests against RCEP

There were raging protests against RCEP

"This move is a clear reflection that India is carefully considering its interest to protect industry and farmers against unfair competition. It will give huge relief to the dairy sector," Professor at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) Rakesh Mohan Joshi said.

Sharing similar views, engineering exporter and former FIEO (Federation of Indian Export Organisation) president S C Ralhan said that it was a welcome decision by India.

"Steel and certain engineering players have raised serious objections over this pact. RCEP would not have given any advantage to exporters to explore Chinese market," Ralhan said. He said participating in the pact would have resulted in increasing imports from China, with which India has a trade deficit of over USD 50 billion.

[Not joining RCEP: BJP lauds ‘PM's strong leadership', slams Congress for bowing to ‘global pressure']

Presence of China in the grouping has raised concerns as Indian industry was of the view that it would flood domestic market with Chinese goods. Several sectors like IT and pharma have time and again flagged issues with regard to trade barriers in entering the market of the neighbouring country.

PM Modi at RCEP summit in Thailand

PM Modi at RCEP summit in Thailand

India has pitched for auto-trigger mechanism in the RCEP agreement as a remedy against sudden and significant import surge from countries such as China to protect domestic players. Biswajit Dhar, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that there were legitimate concerns of Indian industry with regard to this agreement.

[India's decision not to join RCEP taken in national interest]

"The grouping should have taken into account concerns of all the 16 countries before finalising the agreement. Now, we have to prepare ourselves for the future," he said.

Dhar said India always wants to participate in the global trade taking into account the vulnerabilities of all the stakeholders. "The government should now look at policies which are required to strengthen domestic industry so that we can participate in such agreements," he added.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch

Swadeshi Jagran Manch

SJM called the government's decision of not signing the China-backed mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as a bold decision.

SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said staying away from the RCEP is a decision in favour of the country's small businesses, farmers, dairy, data security and the manufacturing sector. "We thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking the bold decision of not entering the agreement on RCEP," the SJM said in a statement.

[BJP was set to sign RCEP, our 'forceful opposition' ensured that govt backs out: Surjewala]

PM Modi showed great diplomatic farsightedness in terming the present text of the negotiations not in favour of the people of India, it said. The SJM believes that the RCEP would have undone various good works done by the NDA government under Modi in the last six months, Mahajan said.

The agreement would have killed the 'Make In India', 'Digital India', 'Skill India' and various other avenues of job creation, the Sangh's economic wing said. It further said after coming out of the RCEP negotiations, we request the government to review the faulty Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and CEPA done with Japan, South Korea, and other countries.

PM Modi at RCEP summit

PM Modi at RCEP summit

After years of negotiations, India pulled out of the RCEP over unresolved "core concerns", with the prime minister saying the proposed deal would have adverse impact on the lives and livelihoods of all Indians.

Modi conveyed India's decision not to join the RCEP deal at a summit meeting of the 16-nation bloc, effectively wrecking its aim to create the world's largest free trade area having half of the global population.

Punjab farmers' protest against RCEP

Punjab farmers' protest against RCEP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday in Bangkok that India will not join RCEP deal as negotiations failed to address New Delhi's "outstanding issues and concerns".

"The present form of the RCEP agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles of the RCEP. It also does not address satisfactorily India's outstanding issues and concerns. In such a situation, it is not possible for India to join RCEP agreement," Modi said.

[To be or not to be: Why India is wary of joining RCEP?]

India has registered trade deficit in 2018-19 with as many as 11 RCEP member countries including China, South Korea and Australia. The agreement aims to cover issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.

In such trade agreements, trading partners reduce or eliminate customs duties on maximum number of goods traded among themselves. They also relax norms like visa regime to promote trade in services and attract investments.

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