Leaders of 16 countries that negotiated the Comprehensive Global Economic Partnership at a meeting in the suburbs of Bangkok on Monday, gave up on concluding negotiations by the end of the year, due to opposition from India, which remains concerned about the massive influx of products from China.
Participating countries will continue their RCEP signing work on 2020, leaders, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said in a joint statement adopted at the meeting. But it remains to be seen whether an agreement will be reached between all 16 countries, because India threatens to withdraw from the negotiations.
The statement stated that 15 countries, with the exception of India, have concluded “text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters”, such as investments and rules, including on intellectual property protection, and “essentially all market access issues,” including cuts and elimination of tariffs.
Meanwhile, the statement noted that “India has significant outstanding issues that remain unresolved,” adding: “All participating countries of the RCEP will work together to resolve these outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory manner. India's final decision will depend on a satisfactory resolution of these issues. “
India has not yet concluded tariff cutting and elimination negotiations with China and is also continuing negotiations with other countries, worrying that Chinese products may enter the Indian market through these countries.
India's senior foreign ministry official told a news conference after the RCEP summit that not joining RCEP is the right decision for the South Asian country at the moment.
Source: Jiji Press