NEW DELHI: India has offered its commitments on opening goods and services sectors in the RCEP negotiations while other members are still struggling to meet their obligations, a top official today said.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega trade agreement which is being negotiated among 16 countries including 10 ASEAN members, India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Offering commitments in goods and services in this mega regional trade agreement reflects how open the Indian economy is, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said here at a seminar.
She said there are lot of “myths” about openness of India and whether its economy is really welcoming to the world.
“Within the mega regional (trade pact) which we are negotiating – the RCEP, we meet all the commitments on the merchandise goods while other partners are struggling to meet their obligations.
“We have indicated our commitments in services, still other partners are struggling to meet theirs. We have been open, we are open and quite certainly people need to reassess exactly where India is in terms of welcoming investments and competition,” she said.
Citing a study, Teaotia said that India’s trade to GDP ratio is higher than that of the US and China.
“It is the very balance and mature fiscal policies that the country has adopted, our fairly robust intellectual property regime, our strong judicial framework, our independent regulators and our very large market which have actually given investors confidence in the country,” she said.
Teaotia said the huge inflow of foreign direct investments in India too reflects the investors keenness for India.
“We are presently engaging with Australia in a trade agreement and any investments irrespective of sectors in Australia beyond a billion dollar requires government oversight, its not so in India,” she said.
In the last 12 months, India has relaxed FDI policy in several sectors including defence, construction and ecommerce.
Talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact and its impact, the secretary said norms in areas like IPR and labour in this agreement may pose challenges to countries including India.
“India’s dependence on the TPP countries for its won exports have declined from about 33.2 per cent in 2000 to 24.8 per cent in 2014. Nevertheless, 24.8 per cent is significant and we will certainly see trade diversion,” she said.
TPP is also a mega trade agreement between 12 countries including Australia, the US and Vietnam.
She added that the stringent protections norms for IPRs particularly related with generic medicines are expected to impact the world and “there are prices that we have to assess whether we are willing to pay or not”.
In terms of labour, any country that chooses to exports to TPP are likely to see a rise in labour cost.