JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The signing of the Southeast Asian (ASEAN) countries trade pact will likely be kicked back to 2020, officials said in a written statement today (11/04), as India worried its small businesses will be hard hit by any flood of cheap Chinese goods.
The 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) spans from India to New Zealand and includes 30 percent of global GDP and half of the world’s people. Objections by India have dashed hopes of finalizing the pact at the ASEAN summit in Bangkok, Thailand where members of the 10-nation bloc have been joined by the premiers of India and China.
Indonesian economic coordinating minister Airlangga Hartarto revealed that India’s approval was a critical issue in the agreement because it was still dated in terms of service and investment. India is still skeptical about this pact because its small business will be hit by a flood of cheap Chinese goods which creates a trade deficit.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeated his country’s concerns during talks with ASEAN leaders on Sunday. New Delhi, he said, is worried its small businesses will be hard hit by any flood of cheap Chinese goods.
However, Hartarto revealed, the problem had come to light with extra efforts to persuade India. All members also committed to signing RCEP next year in Vietnam.
Minister of Trade Agus Suparmanto added, at the moment, RCEP is still in the negotiation stage with 18 of the 20 chapters of the agreement have completed.
“The agreement has made significant progress and we will sign the final draft next year in Vietnam,” he said.
While Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi added, Indonesia had an important position in RCEP so Indonesia was trying to get a meeting point in the negotiations. However, there are still obstacles in the negotiations, therefore, it cannot be 100 percent completed at this time.
Earlier, Economic Ministers from 16 participating countries of the RCEP agreed to finalize the pact in November 2019. The ministry said, by agreeing on the follow-up steps, the RCEP negotiating team is expected to be able to complete negotiations on all market access and agreement texts in all areas of negotiations that are still constrained until now so that their settlement can be announced at the 3rd RCEP summit in November 2019.
According to Marsudi, as the coordinator of the RCEP negotiating countries, Indonesia is committed to inviting all participating countries to collectively encourage the completion of RCEP negotiations on target. The settlement of negotiations without further delay is the joint responsibility of the 16 States Parties.
The minister reminded that the RCEP negotiations are the world’s largest regional pact covering 47.4 percent of the world’s population, 32.2 percent of the global economy, 29.1 percent of global trade and 32.5 percent of global investment flows.
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