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ASEAN Agreement

Nov 16, 2019, 12.21 AM IST

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ASEAN AGREEMENT

India’s RCEP call won’t hit Act East Policy: Jaishankar

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday assured ASEAN and RCEP members that its absence from the block in its present form in no way impacts India’s Indo-Pacific vision.

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  • Negotiations have sputtered for several years, but the statement said the text of all 20 chapters was now complete "pending the resolution of one" member, believed to be India. Objections by India have dashed hopes of finalising the pact at this weekend's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Bangkok.

    Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister and top trade negotiator Wang Shouwen also expressed confidence that the differences would be resolved by the end of this year. Fifteen nations from the Asia-Pacific region – the 10 ASEAN nations plus Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand – agreed on the outline of the trade pact on Monday.

    India has been forcefully raising the issue of market access as well as protected lists of goods mainly to shield its domestic market as there have been fears that the country may be flooded with cheap Chinese agricultural and industrial products, once it signs the deal. The RCEP negotiations were launched by the ASEAN leaders and six other countries.

    In his address at the annual India-ASEAN summit, PM Modi talked about the mutual coordination between India's vision of the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN Outlook for the strategically key region which has been witnessing growing Chinese assertiveness.

    In his opening address at the India-ASEAN summit, the prime minister said enhancing surface, air and maritime connectivity between India and 10 nations of the bloc will significantly boost regional trade and economic growth.

    "Congratulate PM @narendramodi for his bold and courageous decision to not join RCEP, since it was against our economic interests and national priorities. Modi hai to mumkin hai!," Piyush Goyal said in a series of tweets. He further added that the prime minister has shown his concern for farmers, dairy sector, MSMEs and domestic manufacturing.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced mounting pressures at home to take a tougher stance on the terms, and proved unbending as the RCEP negotiations came to a close. Thailand was pushing to have the deal finished this year but a final agreement might not come until 2020 now.

    "Indian chemical industry is an industry-of-industries with a combined turnover of USD 160 billion. It is growing at 100 basis points more than the economic growth," ICC President Vijay Shankar told reporters. Indian chemical industry has the potential to be the engine of growth in the next decade, he said.

    Indian officials have concluded negotiations on most of the 25 chapters, and the rest would be concluded before November 4, when Prime Minister Modi will join leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc and five other countries for the summit.

    "Our focus is to connect India's northeast with Thailand. northeast is being developed as a gateway to south-east Asia. This initiative will immensely strengthen India's act east policy and Thailand's Act West Policy," PM Modi said in his address at the 'Sawasdee PM Modi' event in Bangkok on day one of his visit for ASEAN, EAS and RCEP Summits.

    PM Narendra Modi, who is visiting Thailand from November 2-4, will participate in various ASEAN related Summits including the ASEAN-India Summit, East Asia Summit and a meeting on RCEP negotiations. A joint statement is expected to be released after the leaders’ scheduled summit on Monday. India has said it wants a “win-win outcome” from the pact.

    There was a fear that there would be a surge in imports from China. There is a problem with this argument.

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