The world's largest trade deal was expected to be signed this year. But India reportedly decides to not join RCEP deal, which would have been world's largest FTA, over concerns regarding China.
Background: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free-trade agreement negotiations around which began in 2012. The bloc includes all 10 ASEAN countries and six partners - India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. If enacted, RCEP would include half the world's population and 30% of global GDP.
India's Reservations: New Delhi's apprehensions about the deal are not new. It has voiced these concerns ever since negotiations began - concerns of cheap mass-produced Chinese goods flooding Indian markets to the detriment of local small businesses and traders. Also a concern is the requirement to gradually reduce agricultural tariffs, many of which India is reluctant to do away with in order to protect small farmers. The Guardian
China's Eagerness: China, as the region's largest economy by trillions, stands to gain much from increased market access. Especially at a time when its relations with the US are at an all-time low and the trade war and domestic slowdown are hurting its economic growth.
Update: At press time, reports were coming in that India had decided to not join the RCEP. PM Modi reportedly stood firm on demands and voiced India's concerns over the pact. “RCEP agreement does not reflect its original intent. The outcome was not fair or balanced,” the sources said. News18
2020 Vision: While a deal could not be signed this year - many analysts and politicians were predicting that it would be - the sanguine predictions are now eyeing next year as the time for a final RCEP breakthrough. Thailand, which currently holds the ASEAN chairmanship, said Sunday in a statement that the group “welcomed the conclusion of the ... Negotiations and the commitment to sign the RCEP Agreement in 2020.” CNBC
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