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India should join APEC to avoid isolation


Beijing, Nov 17 (PTI) Pointing to India’s attempts to protect its interests like farm subsidies at WTO, a Chinese daily today said it is high time the country joined APEC to protect its core interests better and avoid isolation.

Sounding critical of India skipping the Neighbourhood Summit organised by China before this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meeting, despite President Xi Jinping’s invitation, an article in state-run Global Times said India should decide whether to “integrate” with the 21-member bloc or “isolate itself”. India “declined” Xi’s invitation extended during his first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Brazil on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting, stating that it is not an APEC member, it said.

“Needless to say, the invitation itself was unprecedented. China used its position as host to invite non-members, including India, Pakistan and Mongolia. Modi’s absence was particularly notable after the leaders of Pakistan and Mongolia arrived in Beijing for the meeting,” it said.

“Some analysts are citing domestic constraints as the reason preventing Modi’s attendance. However, this does not sufficiently explain India’s motives,” it said.

Outlining tough stand taken by India to protect its core interests like blocking the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the WTO to preserve its domestic farm subsidy system, it said “New Delhi’s blockade has proved that it can better guard against its interests when it’s in, rather than out of, an organisation”.

“India now stands as a strong candidate for entry into APEC. However, its recent moves regarding WTO negotiations and declining this APEC meeting invitation present us with an India in contradiction,” it said. “

An India with stronger confidence and closer integration into the regional economy will benefit all sides.

China has realised this and as some observers have pointed out, the invitation itself is an implicit Chinese endorsement of membership,” it said adding that countries like US, Japan and Australia backed New Delhi in this regard.

APEC is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for the Modi government to garner support among members and display resolve in building up a new image of India for stronger economic integration into the world trade system, it said.

India has been pursuing APEC membership for two decades and India has secured vocal support from the US, Japan and Australia.

“China’s support can significantly amplify its chances and expedite the process,” it said. APEC has developed into one of the largest regional forums in terms of population and global trade as well as real GDP in purchasing power parity terms, it said.

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