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China says positive progress made in RCEP negotiations


Press Trust of India Beijing
China said on Wednesday that positive progress has been made in the 27th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, ahead of a two-day ministerial meeting of the 16 Asia-Pacific countries starting here next week.
More than 700 representatives from 16 RCEP members participated in the negotiations held from July 22 to 31 in Zhengzhou, capital city of China's central Henan Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting Assistant Minister of Commerce Li Chenggang.
During the negotiations, participants exchanged views on issues including trade of goods and services, investment, rules of origin, trade remedy measures, intellectual property rights as well as e-commerce, he said.
Li said China will work with all sides involved to push for completing the negotiations within this year.
An 18-member Indian delegation headed by Additional Secretary Commerce Sudhanshu Pandey took part in the negotiations.
Li noted that the progress will help ensure more consensus to be reached at the upcoming RCEP ministerial conference scheduled for August 2 and 3 in Beijing.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who was due to attend the meeting, has cancelled his visit in view of the extended session of the Parliament. Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan is now expected to lead the Indian delegation at the talks.
For India, the RCEP Ministerial talks are important as the grouping of the 16 Asia-Pacific countries aims to create one of the world's largest trading bloc encompassing 45 per cent of the world's population and 40 per cent of global trade.
The RCEP aims to create a free trade area (FTA) made up 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.
The RCEP aims at liberalising norms for trade in goods and services and boost investment among 16-member states. The last round of talks was held in March this year in Cambodia.
China is pushing for RCEP after US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and launched a trade war with Beijing last year demanding it to reduce massive trade deficit which last year climbed to over USD 539 billion.
Facing threat of cheap imports from China, officials say India is specially seeking to protect its advantages in services and stagger the phase-out of tariffs over a longer period to allow Indian industry more time to adjust.
India has also proposed a strict criterion to determine the source country of a product, based on which they get tariff concessions or duties in the RCEP pact which reportedly faced opposition from other members.
India's proposal for strict rules of origin was aimed at preventing Chinese goods from flooding the country through member countries.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently said RCEP can work out a deal by this year without India "for the time being." He said India can join later.
But Indian officials say that member countries are keen about India's participation as it is the biggest market for them.

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First Published: Jul 31 2019 | 7:05 PM IST

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