Letter to BS: Examining India's decision to pull out of the RCEP

Topics Letter to BS | RCEP | ASEAN

This refers to “Leaving RCEP: A missed opportunity?” (January 17). The article rightfully emphasises the role of trade in realising the untapped potential of a country. At present India has bilateral trade agreements with Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea as well as an FTA with members of ASEAN. Thus, in ratifying the RCEP, the barriers would have been lowered with only China, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, this dilutes the spillover effects of intensive and extensive margin arising from trade as stated in the article. Further, an examination of India’s current trade agreements doesn’t enthuse much confidence. For instance, between 2014-15 and 2018-19 India’s trade deficit with the ASEAN increased from $13bn to $22bn. This story rhymes when one looks at the trade deficit with other members of the RCEP, like Japan and South Korea. 

There is no denying that trade based on comparative advantage benefits countries, so an apposite analysis could have been based on the reasons for India remaining non-commital even after seven years of negotiations. An analysis of the unresolved issues, such as rules of origin, auto trigger and safeguard mechanism for surge in imports and rules governing e-commerce, transfer of information and server locations, can reveal the missing link in deciphering the denouement of RCEP saga.

Durgesh Pawar, Pune 

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