RCEP Ministerial meeting fails to reach consensus on e-commerce, investment
RCEP Ministerial meeting at Singapore failed to reach a consensus on chapters related to e-commerce, competition and investment, though progress was made on several other issues. India was represented by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu. This summit was followed by Leaders’ Summit.
Outcomes of meeting
- The ministerial meeting took stock of state of negotiations across various chapters and also assessed the progress on ‘The Package of Year End Deliverables’.
- The ministers acknowledged good progress made negotiations so far with successful conclusion of 5 chapters this year alone, taking total to 7 chapters, namely
- Economic and Technical Cooperation
- Small and Medium Enterprises.
- Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation.
- Government Procurement; Institutional Provisions.
- Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures (STRACAP).
- Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS).
- India’s interests were effectively defended and secured maximum flexibilities in both STRACAP and SPS negotiations. It also managed to obtain balanced outcomes in application of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
- India also showed flexibility on principle of ‘consensus’ in Institutional Provisions Chapter which helped in its successful conclusion during the meeting.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
- RCEP is proposed free trade agreement (FTA) or comprehensive regional economic integration agreement between 10-ASEAN countries and its six FTA partners.
- 10 ASEAN countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and its six FTA partners are Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan and Korea.
- Its negotiations were formally launched at 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. It aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights under its ambit.
- Till 2017, 16 RCEP member states accounted for population of 3.4 billion people with total GDP (in terms of PPP) of $49.5 trillion, approximately 38% of world’s GDP and 29% of world trade.