LiveMint | 6 June 2018
India, China fail to resolve differences on trade tariffs
by Asit Ranjan Mishra
New Delhi: India and China failed to resolve their differences on tariff liberalization under the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement after two days of talks in New Delhi.
Ahead of the July RCEP ministerial in Tokyo, China demanded tariff elimination in more than 90% of traded goods for granting non-reciprocal market access to India. India’s current offer is of tariff elimination in 73% of traded goods to China.
In addition, many countries negotiating the terms of the RCEP want India to open up its market for 92% of traded goods, while India is only ready to offer market access for up to a maximum of 85% items with deviations to countries like China, Australia and New Zealand with whom it does not have a free trade agreement.
An Indian commerce ministry official speaking under condition of anonymity said the Chinese delegation led by Zhang Shaogang, director general in the Chinese ministry of commerce was “very demanding and not flexible. We made a fresh offer to the Chinese side. But they were not quite happy with the ambition level,” the official added.
On India’s request to help it secure an ambitious services deal under the RCEP which includes movement of professionals, the Chinese side said that it is the Asean countries of South-East Asia who have a problem with the proposal and that China doesn’t have a problem with it. “The Chinese side seemed non-committal for pushing for a ambitious services deal under RCEP,” the official added.