India calls for flexibility in RCEP negotiations for a balanced outcome

India has called for a spirit of understanding, accommodation and flexibility towards reaching balanced outcome in the negotiations at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Participating in the eighth RCEP inter-sessional ministerial meeting held in Beijing on 2-3 August, commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan flagged India’s concerns regarding market access and other issues leading to imbalanced trade between some of the partner countries, especially China.
On the side-lines of the ministerial meeting, the commerce secretary held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from China, Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and the ASEAN economic ministers.
In his meeting with Wang Shouwen, vice minister of commerce of China, the commerce secretary emphasized the importance of an RCEP agreement that would duly address the causes of existing trade imbalances. He used this opportunity to flag bilateral market access related issues on various categories of products in which discussions are ongoing between India and China. He also emphasized the importance of easing the business visas regime of China for Indian business travellers.
In his meeting with Boonyarit Kalayanamit, permanent secretary of Thailand, the commerce secretary requested Thailand to improve its offer in goods and services under RCEP. In his meeting with Chan Chun Sing, minister for trade and industry of Singapore, Wadhawan requested Singapore to support operationalisation of the MRA on nursing as agreed in the second CECA review and work towards speedy progress on the third CECA review.
During the meeting with ASEAN economic ministers, the commerce secretary highlighted the importance of services trade, which supports both goods trade and investment. Wadhawan also met Simon Birmingham, minister for trade, tourism and investment of Australia wherein both sides appreciated the progress made under RCEP and the need to move forward on each other’s requests, including service sector related requests of India. The commerce secretary requested greater market access for Indian goods and services from Enggartiasto Lukita, trade minister of Indonesia. During his meeting with Myung Hee Yoo, minister for trade, Republic of Korea, Wadhawan pushed for concrete measures to improve the India-Korea CEPA and address concerns regarding imbalances. He also asked for early resolution of issues pertaining to market access for India’s services sector. The commerce secretary also met S Tanaka, vice minister for international affairs of Japan and Damien O’ Connor, minister of state for trade, New Zealand.