The Commerce Secretary Dr. Anup Wadhawan led a delegation to the 8th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial meeting held in Beijing on 2-3 August 2019. During the meeting he highlighted India’s contribution in shaping the RCEP negotiations till date.  He advocated a spirit of understanding accommodation and flexibility towards reaching balanced outcome in the negotiations. India’s concerns regarding market access and other issues leading to imbalanced trade between some of the partner countries was specifically flagged during the meetings.


 

What
  1. On the side-lines of the Ministerial meeting, the Commerce Secretary held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from China, Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and ASEAN Economic Ministers.
  2. In his meeting with China, India emphasized the importance of an RCEP agreement that would duly address the causes of existing trade imbalances. 
  3. This opportunity to flag bilateral market access related issues on various categories of products in which discussions are ongoing between India and China and also emphasized the importance of easing the business visas regime of China for Indian business travellers.
  4. In his meeting with Thailand, the Commerce Secretary requested Thailand to improve its offer in goods and services under RCEP. 
  5. In his meeting with Singapore, the Commerce Secretary requested Singapore to support operationalization of the MRA on nursing as agreed in the 2nd CECA review and work towards speedy progress on the 3rd CECA review.
  6. During the meeting with ASEAN Economic Ministers, the Commerce Secretary highlighted the importance of services trade which supports both goods trade and investment
 
About RCEP
  1. It is a mega regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated amongst 16 countries, comprising 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) plus six ASEAN FTA partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
  2. It is the world's largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy and accounting for a population of 3.4 billion.
  3. RCEP's share of the global economy could account for half of the estimated $0.5 quadrillion global GDP (PPP) by 2050.
  4. First RCEP summit was held in 2017 in Manila, Philippines.
  5. It is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now a defunct proposed trade agreement between the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries but excludes China and India.

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