Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Jan, 23, 2018

India pushes for concluding balanced RCEP deal that includes services pact

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RCEP, ASEAN

Mains level: Rising services trade and India’s position in it


Balanced RCEP agreement

  1. India has insisted on concluding a “balanced and collectively satisfactory” Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement
  2. India wants a services pact to be included in the agreement

Act east policy being strengthened

  1. India has invited leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries to New Delhi for a commemorative summit on 25 January to mark 25 years of dialogue partnership
  2. On 26 January, all 10 Asean leaders will be chief guests at India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations
  3. This is unprecedented as India usually invites the head of government of a single country as the Republic Day chief guest each year

Why India wants services pact in RCEP?

  1. Services are becoming a dominant driver of growth in both developed and developing countries
  2. Services contribute almost two-thirds of India’s GDP
  3. Surplus in services trade finances almost half of India’s trade deficit
  4. India is pushing for greater liberalization in services sectors for easier movement of its professionals to RCEP member countries

ASEAN-India services and investment agreement

  1. Eight out of ten countries have already ratified the Asean-India services and investment agreement
  2. It came into force in July 2015
Nov, 02, 2016

RCEP: Members worried about giving more market access to Chinese goods

  1. Event: Forthcoming ministerial meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
  2. Issue: Concerns of the members including India, over agreeing to give greater market access to Chinese goods without gaining similarly in return
  3. Sources said the meeting is likely to see an agreement on explicitly incorporating the principle of ‘Single Undertaking’
  4. The means that each aspect of the negotiation, including on goods, services and investment, “is part of a whole and indivisible package and cannot be agreed separately”
  5. This principle is important for India
  6. Reason: There are apprehensions that negotiation on opening up services is progressing at a much slower rate than talks on liberalising goods trade
Aug, 16, 2016

Call to remove IP clauses from trade pact

  1. Context: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade talks round in Vietnam (August 15-19)
  2. News: Humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for the removal of intellectual property provisions (known as the TRIPS-plus provisions) from the agreement
  3. Why? The TRIPS-plus provisions like patent term extensions and data exclusivity could hinder access to affordable drugs
  4. Data exclusivity: These provisions could delay the entry of generic medicines
  5. Significance of generics: Nearly two-thirds of all the drugs MSF purchases to treat HIV, TB and malaria across the world are generic medicines from India
Jul, 25, 2016

RCEP faces services logjam

  1. Context: India has little to gain in getting market access in goods in other countries due to its poor infrastructure and weak manufacturing base, but it thinks it has an upper hand in services negotiations
  2. The 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade talks have hit a hurdle because other countries are not receptive to this idea
  3. India hopes to acquire market access for its growing skilled professionals and easier visa regimes in the RCEP member countries
  4. RCEP comprises ASEAN nations (10) + 6 of its FTA partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea)
Jun, 15, 2016

Issues in RCEP negotiations- Patent Term Extensions

  1. Patent term extensions: These are given to compensate the company for delays in processing patent applications
  2. A company gets a 20-year patent monopoly on a drug from the date that the application is filed; but sometimes processing these applications takes time and the companies get only 13 years instead of 20
  3. A patent term extension will give another five-year monopoly to the innovator company, again delaying the entry of generic drugs in the market
Jun, 15, 2016

Issues in RCEP negotiations- Data Exclusivity

  1. Two of the most worrying are the demands for ‘Data Exclusivity’ and ‘Patent Term Extensions’ — both intellectual property obligations that Least Developing Countries are exempted from till 2033
  2. Data exclusivity: A form of legal monopoly protection for a drug, over and above the patent protections & is given expressly to compensate for the investment made during clinical trials
  3. Impact: Regulators cannot approve a similar drug with similar data for the next five years, delaying the entry of generic, affordable versions
  4. For India, agreeing to data exclusivity will mean amending the Drugs & Cosmetics Act (FDA law)
  5. It would prohibit Indian Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) from registering a more affordable version of a medicine as long as the exclusivity lasts over the clinical trial data
Jun, 15, 2016

India warned against pitfalls in ASEAN trade agreement

  1. Context: Issue of pharma IPRs in ongoing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations
  2. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has warned India that it will no more remain ‘the pharmacy of the developing world’ if the proposals in the pact are adopted
  3. MSF Access Campaign and other civil society organisations are pushing for the removal of harmful intellectual property provisions
  4. Such provisions could potentially increase drug costs by creating new monopolies and delaying the entry of affordable generics in the market
Apr, 23, 2016

RCEP draft moots tough curbs on cheap medicines

  1. Context: A leaked chapter of the draft Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
  2. What? RCEP in its current form could reduce access to affordable medicines in many developing countries
  3. Concerns: Japan & Korea are demanding patent term extensions by 5 years from current 20 years
  4. India has consistently opposed patent extensions, restrictive rules on copyrights and other anti-consumer measures
Apr, 21, 2016

India not obstructionist at RCEP: Commerce Ministry

  1. Indian Efforts: India was one of the first countries to have submitted its offers on Goods, Services and Investments even before the last RCEP Round in Brunei held in February 2016
  2. This in line with the RCEP Ministerial mandate
    India’s prompt offer was highly appreciated by all the RCEP member countries
  3. In fact, several other RCEP countries’ initial offers on Goods have fallen short of the agreed Basic Concept on Initial Offer (BCIO) thresholds
  4. And such countries have been urged to improve their offers to enable negotiations move forward
Apr, 20, 2016

RCEP to India: Cut tariffs or exit FTA talks

  1. Ultimatum: India has been told to either agree to eliminate tariffs on most products quickly or leave the talks on the proposed FTA being negotiated by RCEP
  2. Why? India’s perceived obstructionist, defensive and half-hearted approach that is delaying the conclusion of the talks
  3. India’s protectionist stance: Focusing only on the export of manpower and not on liberalising trade in goods and other services, as well as investment