India declines to join 16-nation Asia-Pacific trade pact

Asia

Accra, Nov. 5, (UPI/GNA) – Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi has decided against the Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership, (RECEP) one of the world’s largest free trade pacts that involve
16 nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Indian leader declined to sign the
agreement at a summit in Thailand on Monday, concerned that the proposed deal
would give China unfair trade advantages.

“The present form of the RCEP Agreement
does not fully reflect [its] basic spirit and the agreed guiding
principles,” Modi said. “It also does not address satisfactorily
India’s outstanding issues and concerns. In such a situation, it is not
possible for India to join RCEP Agreement.”

India commerce minister Piyush Goyal praised
Modi’s decision, saying it will lead to more India-made products and that the
RCEP would’ve stood “against our economic interests and national
priorities.”

Some analysts say the decision could be one
that harms New Delhi’s economy. Rajat Kathuria, director of the Indian Council
for Research on International Relations, said signing the deal would have
brought much needed stability.

“RCEP would have provided a much-needed
external push for our industry to gear up, and to become more
competitive,” Kathuria said. “Modi is” just reinforcing the
often-held perception that India is a difficult country to do business
with.”

India was looking to shore up some of its
trade deficits at the Thailand summit. Indian manufacturers and dairy farmers
were among the most vocal opponents to the RCEP, fearing it would lead to a
wave of cheap, Chinese-made imports.

RCEP negotiations will continue among China,
Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and several smaller nations in the
region, which aim to finalize the agreement next year. They expressed hope
India might rethink its decision and sign on.

GNA

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