India RCEP Current Affairs - 2020

India to set strict restrictions on non-essential imports from China

Ministry of Commerce and industry has announced that 371 items from China will get strict restriction from March 2020. The move aims at curbing imports of non-essential items such as plastic goods, toys, furniture, sports.

Highlights

The rules are to be framed by the Ministry in coordination with BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards). Though the rules focus on Chinese imports, it will also be applicable to Indian producers in order to make the regulations WTO-compliant.

Currently there are 370 standards for imports. India’s plan is to increase the it to 5000 in the second phase. The move will help boost the local industries and help Indian consumers get quality products.

The non-essential commodities imports include petrochemicals, chemicals, heavy industrial products, steel products, telecommunication, electronics, etc.

Apart from trade relation with China, India is also concentrating on FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea that enjoy free access to Indian markets. The step is being considered to boost domestic goods.

Significance

The imports from China that are categorized as non-essential amount to 4 trillion USD. Also, trade deficit with China is widening and it currently stands at 53.6 billion USD. The step will help in reducing India’s dependence on China and will also help in curbing low quality imports from China. This is the main reason why India refused to join RCEP.

RCEP to meet again as India fails to agree on a common ground

The RCEP – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership hosted meeting on October 11 and 12, 2019 in Xinhua Thailand. The trade ministers of 16 nations met and discussed on economic affairs in the region. However, due to India’s tough stand on market access, e – commerce and investment the grouping will meet once again.

RCEP includes 10 members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and six Asia – Pacific countries that includes Australia, India, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

India’s Demands

  • India wants its concerns on investment, e – commerce, taxation, MSME and policies framed by local bodies to be reworked before it signs the deal.
  • India wants its Chinese imports to be checked via automatic safeguards
  • It demanded favorable rules on investments
  • The Policy changes on Indian Taxation System should not be challenged
  • The policies framed for local bodies should not be questioned
  • E – Commerce talks are still underway with Japan and needs to be addressed.

Highlights

  • Negotiators to sort differences by October 19 ahead of November 4 (The RCEP Summit)
  • India participated in deliberations to promote trade and investment to achieve mutual economic growth. Out of 25 deliberations, 6 are remaining. It includes e – commerce, investment, trade remedies, competition and rules of origin
  • A TNC – Trade Negotiations Committee is to be set up.

Issue

There is strong opposition against RCEP in India by the domestic constituencies like diary cooperatives (Amul), farmer organizations, industrial sectors and civil society organizations. This is mainly because, they fear that the Indian market will be flooded by cheap Chinese goods and farm items, especially from New Zealand and Australia.

The GoI has asked to keep the commerce ministry out of dairy sector out of the proposed RCEP free trade pact. This is because opening of free trade in dairy sector will affect farmers in India, the largest producer of milk.