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: Impact of joining RCEP on Indian economy as well as foreign policy
- The 7th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting was recently held in Cambodia.
- Commerce ministers of RCEP countries including India and china, which are negotiating a mega trade deal, held a crucial meeting in Cambodia.
Importance of the Summit
- After five years of intense negotiations, India at the end of the 2nd RCEP summit is now perceived as a constructive player.
- This will ensure that there is no marginalisation of request of smaller countries.
- There is room for policy space for developing countries in transition as it will help moderate ambitions, particularly in the goods negotiations and lead to balanced and mutually beneficial outcomes.
- India’s flexibility helped in facilitating successful conclusion of three chapters – institutional provisions; sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment.
Outcomes of the Summit
- The 16 members of the RCEP group, including India and China has agreed to intensify ongoing negotiations for a proposed mega trade agreement to resolve all issues and conclude the talks this year.
- To ensure that progress is made towards meeting the target for conclusion in 2019, the Ministers agreed to intensify engagement, including by convening more inter-sessional meetings.
- All Ministers resolved to exert utmost effort to achieve the target of concluding negotiations this year.
- The leaders commended the Trade Negotiating Committee for the progress made to date on both market access and text-based negotiations.
Eyes on India
- RCEP members want India to eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on maximum number of goods it traded with them. India’s huge domestic market provides immense opportunity of exports for RCEP countries.
- But lower level of ambitions in services and investments, a key area of interest for India, does not augur well for the agreement that seeks to be comprehensive in nature.
- RCEP bloc includes 10 countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six free trade pact partners namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
- The RCEP bloc aims to cover among the issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.