Jaishankar talks of RCEP, says it is important not to get into false choice on FTAs

11/08/2020    13

Advising against overhyping decisions not to join Free Trade agreements (FTAs), External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said it is important not to get into false choices and that there was a need to have detailed honest debates.

Speaking at a discussion in India@75 Summit organised by CII, the minister said proponents of Free Trade Agreements make out as if that is the only vehicle to engage the world.

He also referred to India’s decision not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) last year and said apprehensions that it reflected protectionist tendencies were not correct.

“It’s important not to get into false choices. The choice is not today between will India engage or not engage the world. Proponents of FTAs make out as if that is the only vehicle to engage the world and if you missed out of RCEP, you are missing something very big in the world,” he said.

“I am not sure that it’s an accurate assessment of RCEP or FTAs... We need to drill down, get to basics, have detailed honest debates and not make these mantras ‘oh my God, we’re retreating and becoming protectionists’. A lot of our problems arise when we start overhyping it,” he

In November last year, India decided not to join the RCEP agreement as its key concerns were not addressed. The key issues behind New Delhi’s decision not to be part of RCEP included inadequate protection against import surge, insufficient differential with China, possible circumvention of rules of origin, keeping the base year as 2014 and no credible assurances on market access and non-tariff barriers.

In May, China said it will welcome India back to negotiations on the RCEP at an appropriate time.

Source: Hindustan Times