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RCEP could be on agenda of Modi-Xi meet in Brasilia

China is keen to include India in RCEP for its huge market opportunities and since India decided against joining at Bangkok, has been pushing for favourable climate for Delhi to join block. The issue could be on the agenda when the two leaders mee...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 08, 2019, 08.37 AM IST
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Data from the ministry showed that China's trade with the other 14 countries participating in the RCEP surpassed $1.3 trillion last year, around one-third of its aggregate foreign trade.
New Delhi: India's decision to stay away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in its current form and measures to repair Sino-Indian trade deficit could be on the agenda of a possible Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the November 13-14 BRICS Summit in Brasilia.

China is keen to include India in RCEP for its huge market opportunities and since India decided against joining at Bangkok, has been pushing for favourable climate for Delhi to join block.

The issue could be on the agenda when the two leaders meet in Brasilia days after the RCEP summit in Bangkok. This will be fourth meeting between Modi and Xi in 2019 aimed at giving direction at the leadership level to bilateral ties.

In their informal summit at Mamallapuram, Modi told Xi that India looks forward to RCEP but it is important that a balance is maintained between trade in goods, services and investment. And Xi had noted this and China assured that Indian concerns would be taken into account. There are speculations that the newly established India-China mechanism at the level of finance ministers to discuss trade, investment and services could also have RCEP on its agenda.

Chinese vice-commerce minister and top trade negotiator Wang Shouwen expressed confidence that the differences would be resolved by the end of this year. "We must, together with India, work hard to solve these problems. India must decide on the basis of this resolution whether to enter into the agreement," Wang was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Wang did not elaborate on India's points of contention, but said that they were not just with China alone. The current member states would settle the "very few remaining questions" around market access before the end of the year, he added.

Considering its diversified membership structure including both the most developed countries and the least developed ones, Wang said the RCEP would have profound significance for the future formation of global trade rules.

Once signed, RCEP will help advance China's efforts in stabilising foreign trade and foreign capital as well as promote the development of sound, sustainable and stable foreign trade, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.

Data from the ministry showed that China's trade with the other 14 countries participating in the RCEP surpassed $1.3 trillion last year, around one-third of its aggregate foreign trade.

Markets in some other RCEP member states are either saturated or getting saturated and understandably China wants India in the bloc to tap its huge market and therefore trying to create enabling conditions for India to join, a person familiar with Chinese trade policy told ET.
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