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Next round of RCEP negotiations in April in Australia

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The Economic Times | 20 March 2016

Next round of RCEP negotiations in April in Australia

The next round of negotiations for the proposed mega trade deal, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), would take place in April in Australia.

In the meeting, India is expected to press for greater market access in services sector, particularly easy movement of professionals, an official said.

"The 11th round of talks was concluded last month in Brunei. The 12th round of negotiations is scheduled at Perth in Australia from April 22," the official said.

Besides liberalisation of the services sector, the other issues, which may come up in the talks include matters related to goods tariffs.

"In the goods sector, India has asked the members to fulfil their commitments as their current offers are not up to the level they have committed," the official added.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega trade deal which aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.

As part of its goods proposal, India has not offered any duty cut on steel to China, Australia and New Zealand in the proposed free trade agreement among 16 Asian members.

The RCEP talks started in Phnom Penh in November 2012. The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world’s economy, estimated to be more than USD 75 trillion.

The RCEP deal is also important amidst the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement led by the US. Indian industry is apprehensive that TPP would impact Indian exports. India already has free trade agreements (FTAs) with the Asean grouping, Japan and South Korea.

India has offered to open its market the most for Asean countries — with which it has an FTA in place — and has proposed to eliminate duties or tariffs on 80 per cent of items for the 10-nation bloc.

Similarly, for Japan and South Korea, it has offered to open up 65 per cent of its product space.

For Australia, New Zealand and China, Delhi has proposed to eliminate duties on only 42.5 per cent of products. As India does not have any kind of FTA with these three countries, its offer is less.

The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 10 Asean members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six free trade agreement partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

 source: The Economic Times