Next round of RCEP negotiations in New Zealand from June 12

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Business Standard | 5 June 2016

Next round of RCEP negotiations in New Zealand from June 12

The next round of negotiations for the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would begin from June 12 in Auckland.

"This meeting is crucial and important as it would be followed by a ministerial meet which is scheduled in August. So the members need to work hard this time on all fronts including goods, services and investments," an official said.

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

The one week long meeting is also likely to deliberate on the maximum level of duties on products a member can eliminate, he added.

India has decided to offer greater access to its market for Asean countries — with which it has a free trade agreement (FTA)in place — and has proposed to eliminate duties or tariffs on 80% of items for the 10-nation bloc under this proposed pact.

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

For Australia, New Zealand and China, Delhi has proposed to eliminate duties on only 42.5% of products, as India does not have any kind of FTA with these three countries.

The 12th round of negotiations was concluded in April in Perth.

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 $75 trillion.

The RCEP deal is also important amid the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement led by the US. Indian industry is apprehensive that TPP would impact Indian exports.

India already has FTAs with the Asean grouping, Japan and South Korea.

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

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