RCEP's last leg: E-commerce, 'most favoured nation' are the new hurdles

Issues like mutual trade concessions under the “most favoured nation” (MFN) clause and e-commerce have emerged as the next big hurdles in the ongoing negotiations on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, say sources.

The RCEP is India’s most ambitious trade pact. Based on India’s existing free-trade agreement (FTA) with Asean, the RCEP will include all the nations with which the 10-nation bloc has trade deals — New Zealand, Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. As nations race against time to bilaterally sort out differences in the mega trade deal, talks have faltered on providing MFN status to all partners. This promises that India will provide investment- or services-related concessions given to a trading partner under a bilateral treaty automatically to all RCEP members without any time gap.

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