Ministry explains approach to RCEP
The Commerce Department has held more than 100 stakeholders’ consultations with other lead Ministries and Departments seeking industry inputs for formulating India’s interests in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the last six years.
The consultations covered a wide spectrum of the economy including agriculture, chemicals, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, textiles, ferrous and nonferrous metals, automobiles and machinery, said the Commerce and Industry Ministry on 24 Aug 2019.
The Department has also received industry feedback in the area of rules of origin, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), antidumping, countervailing duties, safeguards measures and Intellectual Property Rights.
The consultations also included, in recent times, comprehensive interactions with stakeholders under the guidance of Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
Several industry consultations were also organised by FICCI, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CII, ASSOCHAM and DGTR.
State Governments are one of the important stake holders in these negotiations. Recognising this Commerce Secretaries have led delegations to various states and regular engagements have been held with Chief Secretaries and their teams of officials on the various aspects of RCEP. This was to make them aware of the developments and encouraged them to further interact with industry and other stakeholders. Delegations have been led to the States of Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
At the Ministerial level, RCEP has been represented and guided by Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Suresh Prabhu, CR Chaudhary and Piyush Goyal over the past five years when they were in charge of the Ministry.
Besides, in the various Working Groups and Sub-Working Groups senior representatives of other Government Ministries and Departments have been leading the negotiations such as Department of Revenue, Central Board for Indirect Taxes and Customs, Department of Economic Affairs, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Department of Commerce, Directorate General of Trade Remedies, Department of Financial Services, Department of Telecommunication, Competition Commission of India, Reserve Bank of India.
On other specific issues pertaining to other lines, the Ministries, Departments and the Commerce Department have been obtaining inputs for framing India’s negotiating strategy in RCEP.
RCEP negotiations began in November 2012, in Cambodia. RCEP negotiations are held at various levels – Prime Minster of India participates in the RCEP Summits while Commerce and Industry Minister leads the Indian delegation at the RCEP Ministerial Meetings.
Senior officials of Commerce Department take the lead in the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) at expert level. Till date the Commerce Department has been led by senior officials in negotiations. These were Rajiv Kher, Sumanto Chaudhary, J S Deepak, Dammu Ravi, Arvind Mehta, Anup Wadhawan and Sudhanshu Pandey.
The Department also entrusted three autonomous think tanks viz. Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), IIM Bangalore and Centre for Regional Trade (CRT), New Delhi, for conducting independent studies on RCEP with exhaustive consultations with stakeholders across the country.
Stakeholders’ inputs have been received in person from the Industry Associations, individual industries or industry clusters, by post and email.
The database on Stakeholders’ Consultations is uploaded on the website of Department of Commerce at the following link: https://commerce.gov.in/writereaddata/uploadedfile/NTESCL637022544246650798_List_RCEP_stakeholders_consultation_23-08-2019.pdf
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and its six FTA partners (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).
In 2017, prospective RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of US$49.5 trillion, approximately 39% of the world’s GDP. Within this, the combined GDPs of India and China make up more than half that amount.
RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy and is estimated that by 2050 the GDP of RCEP member states is likely to amount to US$250 trillion with the combined GDPs of India and China making up more than 75% of the total. fiinews.com