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India pitches for market access for professionals in RCEP

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The Hindi Business Line | 22 October 2015

India pitches for market access for professionals in RCEP

Amiti Sen

India has raised its pitch for greater market access for professionals in the proposed regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) it is negotiating with fifteen countries— the ten member ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

New Delhi circulated a paper on what its expectations were in terms of market access for workers in the negotiating round last week in South Korea, and stressed that liberalisation agreement in goods and investments were contingent upon a satisfactory deal for movement of professionals, a government official told BusinessLine.

“We will not repeat the mistake that we made in our free trade negotiation with ASEAN when we agreed to conclude goods and services separately and got almost no concessions for our workers,” the official said.

In the paper, India has said that all members should give concessions for business travellers, contractual suppliers of services (CSS) and independent professionals. New Delhi wants an easier visa regime for Indians who travel to other countries either on intra-corporate transfer to work at another office of their employees in another country or service a client through a contract. It also wants RCEP members to increase the number of visas it provides to various categories of independent professionals.

New Delhi’s insistence on a deal for liberalisation of movement for workers (Mode 4) at this point is significant as hectic parleys are on to conclude the deal early next year.

Fourteen members, except India and Indonesia have already exchanged their first offers for opening up the goods market, and the two have promised to do so soon. New Delhi has already agreed to bring in a zero-duty regime for 40 per cent of items it imports from China, Australia and New Zealand, 65 per cent of items from Japan and South Korea and 80 per cent of items from ASEAN countries spread over the first ten years after.

“We have to have a final round of consultations with other Ministries and Departments including revenue, Department of industrial policy & promotion, steel, agriculture and heavy industries. We can give our list of offers for goods, after all departments concerned are in the know of what we are planning to open up,” the official said.

With the US and the eleven Pacific Rim Countries including Canada, Japan, South Korea, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore already finalising the Trans Pacific Partnership pact that could result in the world’s largest free trade zone, it is imperative for India to ensure that the RCEP negotiations are successful or it would lose preferential access to a number of markets in the region.

The RCEP, once concluded, could match the TPP in size and scale as it would account for 45 per cent of the world population and a GDP of over $21 trillion.

 source: The Hindi Business Line