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Last updated: 16 Feb, 2016  

Handshake.9.Thmb.jpg RCEP trade deal: Why does it matter

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Bikky Khosla | 16 Feb, 2016
Negotiations on a mega trade deal -- the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership of Asia and the Pacific (RCEP) -- began on Monday. Officials from 16 countries will hold this eleventh round of negotiations for five days in Brunei. This proposed trade pact, which aims at bringing the ten member states of the ASEAN and its six free-trade agreement partners, including  the five biggest economies of the region -- Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea -- is crucial from India's point of view. The negotiations, if successful, will not only help India to protect its export interests but will also strengthen its strategic and economic status in the region.

With the recent signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership  -- another comprehensive regional trade deal among 12 advanced economies in the Pacific Rim region -- from which India was sidelined, I think it has become more important to speed up the RCEP negotiation. The TPP deal gives its member states duty-free access to each other, thus making imports from non-member countries --  like India and China -- uncompetitive. According to an estimate, India will lose as much as $50 billion of current exports to these countries, with sectors like pharmaceuticals, textiles and chemicals are likely to suffer the most. In this scenario, I think wrapping up the RCEP deal, with its potential to create a $22.7 trillion market, can certainly help reduce the potential negative impacts of the TPP deal.     

In addition, the proposed pact, if implemented, will not only complement our existing trade agreements with ASEAN and some RCEP states, but it will also help us to harmonize our trade and investment regimes gradually with those of other countries of the group. This, I think, could have a positive impact on our economy, attracting more FDI and opening up greater opportunities for Indian companies to explore. The pact also has potential to create a win-win situation, by pushing, on the one hand, integration of the India economy into a more sophisticated manufacturing network of the region and, on the other hand, adding India's service prowess to the manufacturing muscle of its partners.

It was recently reported that India has proposed a forum to speed up the RCEP negotiations. Under this mechanism, the member countries can informally resolve prickly issues with each other without legal hassles. This is a positive step, showing the Centre's keen interest in completing the negotiations as expeditiously as possible, but in this hurry it should not overlook the fact that the proposed pact covers, besides trade in goods, a range of other issues, including  services, investment, competition and IPR. Careful consideration must be given to all these aspects --  and not only to market access for goods --  to ensure that we can get the best out of the trade pact of such massive economic importance.

I invite your opinions.
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Trade insurance
Mariame Espallargas | Mon Feb 22 16:27:53 2016
Sir, I would like to know if you have trade insurance on your plateform trade India. Thank you. Mrs Mariame Espallargas

RCEP trade deal: Why does it matter?
A V Chandran | Thu Feb 18 10:04:33 2016
Since RCEP is a new borne baby, it could be taken care of with proper health care process subject to continuous performance review. In short Mission RCEP and Vision RCEP need both short term and long term actual performance review process. Once the average of short term and long term performance is subject to improvement for our Nation, it could be viable and result oriented otherwise wait and watch the facts and figures!

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