India looks to China-led trade grouping as TPP hopes fade

11 February 2016

Pushed to a corner by an ever-rising trade deficit and no trade partner or block to bank on to boost its falling exports, India is now reported to be looking at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), an Asia-centered grouping led by China, for respite.

India, which obviously overplayed its role both at regional and global trade forums, has been sidelined at most of the trade negotiations and is now being counted as an unreliable partner for countries looking to sell their goods and services.

India failed to make its point at the Nairobi negotiations of the World Trade Organisation's Bali Round and is yet to convince its trade partners in the ASEAN Plus grouping on the need for an agreement on services trade and on movement of professionals.

The country has also been sidelined from the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and is now reported to be stepping up efforts to reach agreement with an alternative trade bloc centered around China.

India, which had earlier succeeded in efforts to block advanced nation's moves to take most of the benefits of global trade policies, has failed to find consensus at multilateral fora of late.

About 12 advanced economies, which account for 40 per cent of the global economy, have signed a TPP deal this month. India's trade negotiators lost that opportunity and has now nowhere to go except the RECP.
In fact, several exporting countries have started to look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' drive as anti-import.

But, a combination of `Make in India' and `Make for India'  could at least for the short and the medium term, open the path to prosperity for Asia's third-largest economy, where per capita output is $1,688 a year, one fifth that in China.


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