India did not join Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) because the partnership was not amongst equals", Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday and noted that India has very serious concerns about the way China carries out its trade and the way "Chinese ecosystem is locked down for fair trade practices" with other countries.
Goyal, who was speaking at the Raisina Dialogue 2020 here, said that he believes any multilateral, regional, comprehensive, or international agreement must recognise "numerous factors such as geographies, population, the political system of governance" and should be fair.
"We in India have clearly faced discrimination and a lot of unfair trade practices from different countries around the world. We are in the process of bringing out all of these issues, bringing them in the right perspective, placing them before our trading partners. That was one of the reasons we were not able to join the RCEP because very clearly the partnership was not amongst equals," Goyal said.
He was responding to a query on India not joining the RCEP.
"RCEP as a formulation had 16 countries, most of whom already had trading arrangements with each other... but we also had China in that room with whom we have very serious concerns about the way they are carrying out their trade, about the way Chinese ecosystem is locked down for fair trade practices with other countries," Goyal said.
The minister noted that India's trade deficit with the RCEP member countries grew by about 10 times from 2003-04 and 2013-14 and accounts for two-thirds of its global trade deficit.
"It grew about ten times from barely USD 7 billion to about USD 65-70 billion. Today, we have a trade deficit of USD 105 billion (with RCEP countries), which is two-third of my world trade deficit," he said.
Goyal termed "lack of fair access to Indian products" in RCEP countries as a reason for the growing trade deficit.
"In the end, we realised that it would be only detrimental to Indian domes industries to get into RCEP, unless we get credible, fair, and accountable resolution on our concerns around origin rules, around the base year with which this agreement would take off," Goyal said.
"It would have been a good diplomatic move but a bad trade decision to join the RCEP," he noted.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)