The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), negotiations for which started in November 2012, aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
The RCEP bloc 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.
"This is perhaps the most ambitious agreement we are doing. It encompasses about 40 per cent of global GDP and over 42 per cent of the world's population. So it's a huge significant bloc. It is not an easy one. There will be ramifications, nevertheless it is important because of our geographical connect and our natural complementarities," Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said.
She was addressing a seminar in PHD Chamber of free trade agreements.
She said that RCEP is a very active agreement and it is part of India's Act East policy.
There are risks in this because India has huge adverse balance of trade with China, Japan, South Korea and Asean, she said adding, "We have to be mindful of the fact that it has to be a balanced agreement."
So far, 22 rounds of negotiations have concluded besides five minister-level meets.
Further, the secretary said that services sector is an important component of the pact.
"...With Asean, we have negative balances of services and goods trade. So it is not like that by negotiating services, there is some great lollipop which will fall into the lap of India. No, it would not happen," Teaotia said.
India's trade deficit with China stood at USD 63.12 billion in 2017-18. India wants certain deviations for such countries. Under deviations, India may propose a longer duration for either reduction or elimination of import duties for such countries.
India already has a free trade pact with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan and South Korea. It is also negotiating a similar agreement with Australia and New Zealand but has no such plans for China.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)