Congress labels RCEP third 'jolt' to economy after demonetisation and GST

Topics RCEP | Indian Economy | Congress

The Congress on Tuesday claimed the RCEP agreement, likely to be signed by India next month, would be a 'jolt' to the country's economy and demanded that the government explain to the people the cost benefit analysis of the mega free-trade pact involving 16 countries.

The proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) pact would be the "third jolt" to the country's economy after after demonetisation and 'flawed' implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh told reporters here.

"Before signing, the Prime Minister and Ministry of Commerce and Industry should show to the common man of our country what is the cost benefit of this RCEP," he told reporters here.

"What is going to happen after the third jolt on Indian economy... Now, Make in India has been made Sale in India programme. In place of Make in India, the Government of India has resolved that sell in India, make elsewhere. It's outline has been made through RCEP," he alleged.

The deal had been facing 'increasing' resistance from domestic industry, farmer groups, civil society organisations and opposition political parties who apprehend China will dump cheaper goods into India using the RCEP, Vallabh said. Even without the RCEP, the imports from China account for four times the exports from India to China, he claimed.

The RCEP would adversely affect farmers as there would be intellectual property rights (IPR) issues after the RCEP, in using seeds, he said.

The services of IT industry would also come under RCEP, he said. "All our products, all our USPs would go there (foreign countries), duty free... How will you save IT industry," he said. Pharma industry would be the third biggest casualty and IPR issues would apply to generic drugs once the RCEP was signed, he said.

The details of RCEP were not available on government websites, he said demanding that the NDA government inform the country if any study had been made about its impact on MSME units and to protect the interests of farmers, pharma and IT industries.

The RCEP is being negotiated among 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six free-trade pact partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Congress had on Friday decided to oppose the pact, saying it would prove to be suicidal as the time is not right for the pact which will increase imports from China.

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said the government will protect the interest of domestic industry before entering signing RCEP.

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