A day after India opted out of the Beijing-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), citing “unresolved issues”, China Tuesday said it will follow the principle of “mutual understanding and accommodation” to resolve the outstanding issues raised by India. China also said it would welcome India joining the deal at an early date.
Closing the door for now on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), India said it will not join the 16-nation trade agreement since it “does not reflect its original intent” and the outcome is “neither fair nor balanced”. The other 15 nations in the regional grouping — 10 of ASEAN plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — decided to go ahead and sign the pact next year.
Underlining his government’s decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his statement, said “neither the Talisman of Gandhiji nor my own conscience permit me to join RCEP”. Delhi’s decision comes in the wake of opposition to the pact from the Congress as well as outfits of the Sangh Parivar, apart from some in the domestic industry.
Asked on India not joining the RCEP deal over concern of cheap Chinese products potentially harming its domestic industry, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the “RCEP is open” and welcomes India joining the deal.
“If it is signed and put into implementation it is conducive for the Indian goods entry into China and other participating countries. In the same vein, it will also help Chinese goods to enter the markets of India and other participating countries,” news agency PTI quoted Geng as saying.
“This is two-way and complementary (deal) and I should point out that China and India are both emerging major developing countries. We have a huge market of 2.7 billion people and there is a big potential in the market,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed happiness that 15 countries that had taken part in the RCEP had concluded text-based negotiations. “I am happy to note that yesterday 15 countries taking part in RCEP concluded text based negotiations and I hope the agreement will be signed and entered into force at an early date,” he said.
The umbrella trade agreement promises to be the biggest free-trade zone in the world. These countries are home to 3.6 billion people, or nearly half the world’s population, and account for around one-third of global gross domestic product.
ASEAN leaders originally proposed the idea of RCEP in 2012 which was endorsed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, and talks began in 2013.