[Ip-health] Why Civil Society Groups Oppose Regional Economic Partnership Talks

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Mon Jun 23 12:23:42 PDT 2014


Economy23 Jun, 2014 18:44 ISTWhy Civil Society Groups Oppose Regional
Economic Partnership TalksSixteen countries, which include the 10 ASEAN
countries and Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New
Zealand, are involved in RCEP negotiationsJoe C Mathew
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Even as the central government is taking a fresh look at the performance of
the free trade agreements (FTA) operational so far, a network of 75 civil
society organisations, grouped under The Forum Against Free Trade
Agreements, have cautioned the government against India’s ongoing
negotiations with 15 countries for a Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP).

In a submission to Nirmala Seetharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and
Industry, the forum wanted India to be wary of deeper and broader trade
liberalisation than that of existing FTAs in region that could follow RCEP.
The fifth round of RCEP negotiations is taking place in Singapore from 23
-27 June 2014.

“One of the important concerns with regard to RCEP is that it has the
potential to permanently damage the Indian manufacturing sector due to high
degree asymmetry in manufacturing capabilities of China, Japan, South Korea
and some of the ASEAN Member Countries compared to India”, the submission
said. “India may not only fail to gain market access from RCEP but also
bears the risk of acceleration of deindustrialization.  Thus the RCEP goes
against government’s efforts to revive the Indian manufacturing sector”, it
added.

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Sixteen countries, which include the 10 ASEAN countries and Australia,
China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, are involved in
RCEP negotiations.

The forum also pointed out that India’s aggressive FTA strategy of recent
times have led to increasing imports from ASEAN countries and other member
countries engaged in RCEP negotiation. “India has substantial negative
trade balance with its FTA partners including ASEAN bloc and countries such
as Republic of Korea and Japan”, it stated.

The forum wanted India to restrain from making commitments at RCEP
negotiation and declare moratorium on further FTA negotiations till the
completion of review of cost and benefit of the existing FTAs. It also
wanted India to conduct an impact assessment study to assess the costs and
benefits of RCEP and make it available for public scrutiny. “Ensure
transparency in  all FTA engagements especially in the RCEP and make RCEP
negotiating texts public”, the forum demands
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