Next round of RCEP talks in Japan; India to push for services

Source: PTI | Published: The Economic Times, February 2, 2017

NEW DELHI: The single-tier duty structure and roadmap to liberalise services sector will be the key areas over which the RCEP members would deliberate during the negotiations beginning February 27 in Japan. Under single-tier system, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member countries will discuss finalising the maximum number of goods on which duties will either be eliminated or reduced drastically.

This will be the 17th round of negotiations in Kobe, Japan where chief negotiators will meet and discuss the progress of the mega trade agreement, an official said.

RCEP is a mega trade deal that aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical co-operation, competition and intellectual property rights.

As the domestic industry has apprehensions over a deluge in imports from countries such as China after the duty cut under the agreement, 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.

During the meetings, India would press for greater market access in the services sector, particularly easy movement of professionals, the official added.

The talks for the pact started in Phnom Penh in November 2012. The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world’s economy, estimated to be more than USD 75 trillion.

The 16-member bloc RCEP 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.

India already has implemented a free trade agreement with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea. On the other hand, the country is negotiating similar pacts with Australia and New Zealand.

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