India has decided to not join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement over India’s concerns not being addressed in the deal. A virtual Inter-sessional ministerial meeting of the proposed free trade agreement of a group of 15 countries from the Indo Pacific region- RCEP was conducted on 23rd June 2020. Apart from the 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and China are the 15 countries that are negotiating for the free trade agreement.

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March 2020, this was the 3rd major RCEP meet, earlier the 29th and the 30th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee meeting were conducted in the months of April and May in which all the 15 participating countries have reaffirmed to sign the agreement in 2020.

Why India decides to not join RCEP agrement?

According to sources in the government, India has decided not to join RCEP and PM Narendra Modi has stood firm on the issue that India’s concerns were not addressed in the agreement. Sources said the RCEP agreement with China and Asean countries does not reflect “Its Original Intent” and the outcome is “not fair or balanced”.

The economic crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought has accelerated the RCEP negotiations over the last months as all the fifteen (15) countries under the negotiating agreement are looking for a larger market for their economic recovery. As a result, India with a population of more than 130 Cr is being recognized as a valuable participant under the free trade agreement.

In a joint statement released after the ministerial-level meeting of RCEP countries on 24th June 2020, it was stated that the RCEP group remains open for India, the participation of India in RCEP will contribute to the affluence and overall advancement of the region.

India’s stance to RCEP

India pulled out of the RCEP group in November 2019 as opening up the market through this free Trade agreement can put the Domestic manufacturers and producers of India at risk of getting saturated by imports from China.

India has already a trade deficit with 11 out of the 15 countries participating in the RCEP agreement. India will Rejoin the Proposed Trade Agreement – RCEP Member States India will Rejoin the Proposed Trade Agreement- RCEP Member States