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‘India presses for parallel talks in goods, services in RCEP’


ARCHIVES (OLD PHOTO DATABASE)New Delhi: India today pressed for parallel negotiations in goods and services to ensure that the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement benefits all nations which include ASEAN countries, China, Japan and Korea.

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said besides manufacturing, the agreement must focus on services sector to improve composite competitiveness of the nations in the region.

“This (Asia) is a manufacturing hub of the world…if the manufacturing capital appropriately connected to the services efficiencies, we can make our composite competitiveness far more attractive and therefore a balance between the manner in which goods and services negotiations move is extremely important,” Kher said here.

He was speaking at a function of The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

The 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) comprises 10 ASEAN members and its six FTA partners namely India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The 16 economies account for over a quarter of the world economy. RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh in November 2012.

“We have been seeking a parallel movements of goods and services,” he added.

The Secretary also said that countries which are negotiating the agreement will get a market of 1.2 billion people in India.

“India also brings the prospects of bringing down tariff from a relatively higher levels of tariff on an MFN basis. India brings with the prospects of integration in the services economy with a very strong focus on IT,” he said.

He said that the member countries should also recognise that India is poised at a point where significant amount of domestic work needs to be done over the next couple of years will also have to extremely cautious and careful.

“We also have to recognise that India has a relatively smaller presence in the value chains in these regions and we are conscious of this and we also recognise that in order to be part of these value chains, lot of domestic reform we need to do and therefore the process of negotiations will have to account for these developments that are happening in India,” he added.

“Recently the manner in which the negotiations have happened have give us a little bit of concern…I think it is important that we all move together rather to move in a desperate manner,” he said.

RCEP is under negotiations and it is an extremely important institutional process which could lead to a plurilateral agreement which will have a significant consequences for partners in the agreement.

“India joined the RCEP negotiations with the clear recognition that this will help in accessing the regional markets in better way, it will help in improving manufacturing and services delivery efficiencies and it will also make it more competitive,” Kher said.

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