The Economic Times | 3 July 2016
RCEP talks: Chief negotiators to meet on July 18-19 in Jakarta, tariff talks on agenda
NEW DELHI: Chief negotiators of 16 countries, including those from India and
China, will meet on July 18-19 in Jakarta to discuss tariff-related issues in the goods sector.
In the meeting, India will make a pitch for continuation of the three-tier system of tariff or tax elimination for member countries as a few countries favour only one tier, an official said.
The official added that some, including China, are pushing to increase the number of products that will attract zero duty.
"The meeting is crucial as members have to finalise the contours before the trade ministers meet in August. India may increase the number of products, but would not go for zero duty on those. It will propose to reduce taxes on those incremental goods," the official said.
India has decided to offer maximum access to its market for ASEAN countries — with which it has a free trade agreement in place — and has proposed to eliminate duties or tariffs on 80 per cent of items for the 10-nation bloc under this proposed pact.
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 them.
In the recently-concluded negotiations for the mega trade deal - RCEP - in Auckland, a few members raised concerns about the three-tier system. The next round of talks is scheduled to be held in Vietnam.
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.
The talks for the pact 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.
India already has FTAs with the ASEAN grouping, Japan and South Korea.
The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 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.