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, TPP etc.
Mains level: How India will gain from being a part of RCEP
Meet for a “Substantial Conclusion”
- The Union Minister for Commerce & Industry is leading the delegation for the meeting for trade Ministers of RCEP member countries which is taking place in Singapore.
- The ministerial meeting will be followed by the 2nd RCEP Leaders Summit.
Fine-tuning the negotiations
- As the East Asia Summit nears this week, negotiations for the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) are going down to the wire.
- India is expected to take the final decision negotiating its stance more deeply.
- In the previous round of discussions in September, the countries had reached a “substantial conclusion” before reaching a final agreement by 2019.
- This “substantial conclusion” undermines the principle of “single undertaking”, which means nothing is done until it is completely done.
- In addition, only five of the 18 chapters in the RCEP are actually done, leaving the rest with many debating points.
- Many countries want India to be part of this deal as a way of balancing China’s outsized presence.
- India is having a hard time battling perceptions that it is the only laggard on RCEP negotiations.
- From a position of being fearful of letting the RCEP become a back door for Chinese entry into India, India has evolved its position considerably believing it has a lot to gain from the agreement.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
- The RCEP is a pact that aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
- The RCEP members include 10 ASEAN members – Brunei Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam and their 6 free trade agreement partners – India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
- The chief negotiators had recently concluded the 24th round of meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, last month.
- India already has a free trade agreement with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan and South Korea and it is negotiating similar pacts with Australia and New Zealand.
- India is pushing for liberalizing norms to promote services trade as the sector accounts for about 55 % of India’s GDP.