- A meeting of all the trade ministers of 16 countries (16 RCEP members) was recently concluded in Cambodia.
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional economic agreement between the 10 ASEAN governments and their six FTA partners.
- It 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.
- It aims to cover among the issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is being negotiated since 2012 and now the negotiations have entered the sixth year.
- In the last round of negotiations, held in Bali Indonesia, India was being pressurized to finalise their commitments soon so that a deal could be finalized in 2019.
- The Bali negotiations are now being followed by a trade ministers meet in Cambodia.
Highlights of the meeting
- Following the Bali negotiations, a meeting of all the trade ministers of 16 RCEP countrieswas recently concluded in Cambodia.
- In the meeting, the progress of negotiations since the 2nd RCEP Summit on 14 November 2018 in Singapore was reviewed.
- The RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee was commended for the good progress made till now on both market access and text-based negotiations and also recognized that more work still needs to be done –
- The Leaders’ targeted that the RCEP be concluded in 2019 and urged the countries to ensure that progress is made towards negotiations to achieve this target.
- It also urged to address specific sensitivities, while working towards achieving commercially meaningful outcomes.
- All the members should resolve for constructive engagement to overcome challenges and find solutions to the remaining issues.
- There are some points of disagreement between India and other RCEP members, due to which the deal is delayed-
- RCEP members want India to significantly reduce duties on maximum number of goods, as India’s huge domestic market provides immense opportunity for their exports.
- On the other hand, services and investments which are key areas of interest for India is attracting lower level of ambitions by RCEP members.
- Hence, both the points of dis-agreement are unfavourable for India.
- The meeting was concluded with all the members including India and China agreeing to intensify the ongoing negotiations to resolve all issues and conclude the talks this year.
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional economic agreement between the 10 ASEAN governments and their six FTA partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
- The goal of the negotiations is to:
- Boost economic growth and equitable economic development.
- Advance economic cooperation.
- Broaden and deepen integration in the region through the RCEP.
- The proposed RCEP would cover almost every aspect of economy such as:
- Goods, services and investment.
- Economic and technical cooperation.
- Intellectual property rights (IPR).
- Rules of origin and competition.
- Dispute settlement.
- The RCEP can potentially result in the largest free trade bloc in the world covering about 3.5 billion people and 30 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.