India selfishly blocking RCEP pact: Chinese media

Source: The Economic Times

BEIJING: Accusing India of “selfishly” blocking Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), state-run Chinese media today said the mega trade deal will not only boost India’s economic stamina but also instill a new vigour in regional growth.

“India should stop acting selfishly to roadblock the Regional RCEP as it takes part in negotiations of the regional trade deal. The free trade agreement could not only boost India’s economic stamina but could also extend the supply chain in Asia and instill new vigour in regional growth,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“It would be narrow-minded for India to believe that the RCEP could benefit China or other members more. Whether India’s growth can be sustained depends on how quickly it realises that the only feasible route is to open its market and contribute to regional integration and economic development,” it said.
The RCEP included 10 economies of the ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and six of its free trade partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea).

China is pushing for RCEP as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade alliance worked by outgoing Obama administration, could collapse as US President-elect Donald Trump has said America would withdraw from it.

Facing threat of cheap imports from China after the bilateral trade deficit mounted to over USD 53 billion, Indian officials say the country is seeking to protect its advantages in services and stagger the phase-out of tariffs over a longer period in the case of China, to allow Indian industry more time to adjust.

It said the RCEP which covers diverse areas such as goods, services and investment, could extend the regional supply chain and streamline multiple Asian trade agreements if successfully inked.

“With an average tariff level of 15 per cent, India feels huge pressure to reduce tariffs dramatically to zero or less than 3 per cent,” it said.

“Its implications on the regional and world economy remain undoubted. But negotiations have dragged on with the initial deadline extended from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017. India has always been a tough negotiator and sees opening its domestic markets to cheaper goods from other countries, especially China, as a serious threat,” it said.
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