Commerce and trade ministers of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries will be meeting Friday in Bangkok to help resolve issues related to “crucial” aspects of the mega trade deal that are yet to be settled, as per the Commerce Ministry. Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal will participate in these discussions as well as hold “a series” of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Japan, Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand during this period, the Ministry stated Thursday.
“Out of 25 chapters 21 chapters have been concluded. Crucial chapters of Investment, Electronic Commerce, Rules of Origin and Trade Remedies are yet to be settled,” the Ministry’s release said.
“Ministerial guidance will be sought on these issues during the Bangkok Ministerial round being held in October 2019,” it added.
The 9th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial will be the last ministerial before the 3rd Leaders Summit on November 4, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend. This intersessional ministerial meeting comes at a “crucial” stage, as RCEP is scheduled to be announced as concluded in November.
The 28th round of negotiations for RCEP at the expert level had concluded at Da Nang, Vietnam, on September 27. “In this round of negotiations meeting of the Trade Negotiating Committee was held in which senior officials participated in negotiations regarding market access on trade in goods, trade in services and investment as well as on other areas like rules of origin, intellectual property and electronic commerce,” stated the Ministry.
It added that in preparation for the 9th ministerial round, Goyal held consultations with the Indian industry “for firming up India’s position and for taking into consideration industry concerns and sensitivities. Commerce and Industry Minister chaired several inter-ministerial meetings at the official level and also with ministers of the key line ministries”.
“Focus and emphasis of the meetings chaired by the Commerce and Industry Minister was on putting in place appropriate safeguards including auto-trigger mechanism against sudden surge in imports from RCEP countries.”
The RCEP negotiations were launched by leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states and six ASEAN Free Trade Agreement partners — Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand.