RCEP pact likely to see dumping of Chinese goods: Industry to govt

Topics RCEP | rcep meet

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal
Domestic industry, across a broad range of sectors, has called for caution on India joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bloc.

Fear of Chinese goods flowing into the country unhindered if the deal goes through was the primary concern among industry representatives. 

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal met representatives during a series of parleys in Mumbai on Monday to allay fears.

The RCEP is a proposed pact between 10 Asean economies and six others (New Zealand, Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea) with which Asean currently has free-trade agreements (FTAs). 

At a time when major export sectors continue to struggle under falling global demand, most sectors have expressed dumping fears, a person present in the meeting, said. 

Representatives from sectors such as steel, aluminium, agriculture, food processing, leather, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, engineering goods and automobiles, among others, gave their suggestions on the deal.

The government has assured the steel sector that items that had earlier been removed from the purview of the RCEP, won’t be brought back. Steelmakers had demanded that steel products be completely removed.

Now, steel products have been divided into five categories of A, B, C, D and E, with products carrying customs duty for five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years, respectively. 

Within hot rolled and cold rolled products, there are different duties. On the other hand, hot rolled and cold rolled coils have duties unchanged. Officials from Hindalco, Vedanta and JSW Steel attended the meet.

In its most direct statement on the matter ever since talks began, India told Asean nations earlier this month that the domestic industry is not convinced that the proposed RCEP deal will create a ‘win-win situation for all’ and ensure balanced outcomes for both goods and services. 

The government has also been under pressure to review existing FTAs with South Korea and Japan, that haven’t been able to reduce India's trade deficit with these nations. 

New Delhi has resisted calls by most nations, which argued that India should slash existing tariffs on up to 90 per cent of all goods. There were demands by developed economies such as Japan and Australia that India open up the market to specific products such as dairy and engineering goods.

Against that backdrop, the future of the mega trade bloc, under planning since 2012, is uncertain; more so, as several ministries have opposed the talks.

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