Why India opted out of RCEP and what are the implications

The latest twist in India's policy on foreign trade may benefit the US

(L to R) India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talk before a group photo during the East Asia summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Photo: (AP/PTI)

After seven years of negotiations to create the world’s largest free trade region, India on Monday closed door for the time being on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), stating that joining the deal in its current form would have adversely affected its national interest.

However, fifteen other nations in the regional grouping - 10 from ASEAN along with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand - decided to go ahead with the deal after the conclusion of the summit in Bangkok, keeping the door open for India. 

At the third RCEP Summit held between October 31 and November 3 in Bangkok, PM Modi expressed his views on the proposed form of the agreement, which according to him, fails to meet the basic guiding principles of the RCEP. 

“It also does not satisfactorily address India’s outstanding issues and concerns. In such a situation, it is not possible for India to join RCEP agreement,” he asserted.

In view of this, the joint statement issued by RCEP said “India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved. All RCEP Participating Countries will work together to resolve these outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way. India’s final decision will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues."

The key concerns that remained unresolved are

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