India offering ‘far deeper’ proposals in RCEP: Rita Teaotia

Source: PTI Published: The Economic Times | March 27, 2017

NEW DELHI: Pitching for liberalisation of trade in services, India today said it is offering “far deeper” proposals in the proposed mega deal RCEP than most of the other member nations of the grouping.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega trade agreement being negotiated among 16 countries including ASEAN, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia also said India will give more concessions in RCEP than any other country will do.

“In RCEP and several negotiations in terms of investments and services, India is able to offer far deeper offers and proposals than most of the counterpart countries,” she said here at a function.

She said that in RCEP, “The difficulty is that, while we see countries able to match the breadth of India’s offers, so far it is very hard for countries to match the depth”.

The statement assumes significance as India is pressing for greater market access in the services sector, particularly easy movement of professionals, in the RCEP negotiations.

The mega trade deal aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.

Emphasising on the importance of trade in services, she said the sector holds huge potential to boost economic growth and create employment in all economies.

Further talking about the second review of India­ Singapore free trade agreement, the secretary said there have been difficulties in concluding this review because of certain “small” issues.

India and Singapore implemented the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) in August 2005. Timely reviews are part of these pacts.

Citing certain issues, she said the asset management ratio for Indian banks has tended to be higher than it is for counterpart banks from other nationalities.

In India, this ratio is same for both foreign or Indian banks, “but in Singapore, it is hard to know on exactly what premise the asset management ratio is based and therefore it leads to worries and concerns in the industry”.

The other issue, she said, is the restrictions in the movement of professionals. Meanwhile a report released by Research and Information System for Developing Countries on India­Singapore CECA has suggested certain steps to further increase bilateral trade.

It suggested early action for mutual recognition agreements to be reached in the areas of accounting, architecture, dental and medical services with in a year. “It would be very important to bring more predictability in the regulatory aspect regarding employment passes particularly in relation to Indian banks and IT companies in Singapore,” the report said.

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