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RCEP members ask India to take a decision

Amidst mounting pressure to finalize the pact before the year draws to an end, members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have asked India to make up its mind on its membership of the trade group. “These are pressure-building tactics for India to give up its interests and conclude the pact soon,” stated an expert on trade issues.

Talks are already on for India to immediately eliminate tariffs on 28% of the traded goods and more than 35% of the goods in phases. However, “Nothing is decided on tariff cuts for China as yet. That is still uncertain,” said an official source.

What has deterred India so far from signing this deal is its rising trade deficit with RCEP, especially China which stood at US$ 53.6 billion in FY19. There are concerns that conclusion of this pact will open more vistas for China to dump its goods in India. Also, India has competing interests in agriculture, horticulture and dairy with other non-free trade agreement (FTA) partners like Australia and New Zealand.