RCEP Current Affairs

19th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee Meeting held in Hyderabad

The 19th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) meetings and other related meetings were held in Hyderabad, Telangana.

Besides, the 19th round of TNC, parallel meetings were also held by the three main Working Groups on Trade in goods, services and investment. Working Groups in other areas like electronic commerce, Intellectual Property, Legal and Institutional Issues etc. also had held their meetings.

Key takeaways of 19th round

All RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) agreed that RCEP agreement has immense potential to deliver on new economic opportunities including job creation that are much needed in today’s uncertain world. India held that RCEP can offer a forward looking alternative in face of growing protectionism in world.

RPCs also expressed shared commitment to work collectively and in cooperative manner to progress the negotiations in an accelerated way and achieve a comprehensive, modern, high-quality and mutually beneficial agreement that balances and addresses sensitivities and aspirations of participating countries.

About Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

RCEP is a proposed comprehensive regional economic integration agreement (mega Free Trade Agreement) amongst the 10-ASEAN countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam) and its six Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) partners, viz. Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan and Korea.

RCEP negotiations were formally launched at 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement that includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.

Till 2017, RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total GDP (in terms of PPP) of $49.5 trillion, approximately 39% of the world’s GDP (combined GDPs of China and India makes up more than half that amount).

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RCEP members worry over market access to China       

The 15 Asia-Pacific nations including India of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are concern to give greater market access to Chinese goods without gaining in return.

All these countries in the RCEP grouping are also worried about agreeing to eliminate tariffs altogether, a move that will mainly help China.

What are the concerns?

These 15 Asia-Pacific nations including India fear that China may dump its excess capacity in several items including steel, as well as highly subsidised items which may harm local industry of importing countries and distort trade.

What is RCEP?

  • RCEP is the proposed mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 16 Asia-Pacific countries.
  • It includes India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-member ASEAN bloc.
  • The RCEP negotiation process had started in 2013 and is unlikely to be concluded by the end of 2016.
  • The proposed FTA aims to open up trade in goods and services as well as liberalise investment policies.
  • It will cover a market of over 3 billion people in these 16 countries — whose total combined GDP is more than $17 trillion and collectively account for 40% of world trade.

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