Indian government announced beginning of this week that it will not sign the Asia Pacific Trade Pact which was devised to form a powerful trading block of Asian countries and would also cover around 1/3rdof world’s gross domestic product. The pact called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or (RCEP) is a trade agreement between ten members of ASEAN and around 6 of its largest trading partners comprising of China, South Korea, India and Japan from Asia followed by Australia and New Zealand. This trade pact’s negotiations began in 2013 and the main obstacle in the past has been India’s reluctance to open up its markets.
According to diplomat Vijay Thakur Singh who was a part of India’s East Asian Relations at Ministry for External Affairs said that India announced its decision of not joining the RCEP agreement to all other members on Monday itself. Other Asian countries were present in Thailand for several summits one of which was the 35th ASEAN summit. During this summit Mr. Singh told reporters in Bangkok at a press briefing that this reflects India’s assessment of current global situation and fairness and balance levels in the agreement. He told reporters that several issues of interest that are critical to India have not been resolved in the trade agreement.
He elaborated that under existing circumstances India considered it right to abstain from joining the agreement. But India will continue strengthening its trade, investments and relations with other nations in the region. Though he refrained from commenting about what unresolved issues were identified by India during the press briefing, he affirmed that nations participating in the agreement were aware of them. Analysts at Eurasia Group wrote in a note that though China offered concessions and safeguard measures India was concerned that a surge of imports from China would hurt its interests. The trade pact is scheduled to be signed next year said Thailand and its text is also complete and is awaiting reviews from legal experts after which it will be signed by member nations.