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Japan miffed over India’s stymieing trade pacts: Report
October 26, 2014, 8:46 am

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan on 2 September 2014 [Image: s-abe.or.jp]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe (second from right) in Tokyo, Japan on 2 September 2014 [Image: s-abe.or.jp]

Japanese officials have expressed disappointment at the Indian government’s refusal to ratify the WTO trade deal and “reluctance” in joining negotiations of the crucial multi-lateral trade pact, the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP).

Japanese daily Nikkei reported on Sunday that Japan and other Asian nations are deliberating on “arranging a deal without India”.

“We should not have included India in the RCEP negotiation framework in the first place,” a Japanese official was quoted in the report.

Incidentally, the next round of RCEP negotiations will be held from 1-5 December 2014 in the outskirts of the Indian capital, New Delhi.

The RCEP, or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, will be comprised of the 10-nation ASEAN club plus six others: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The combined economic output of the bloc reached $21.3 trillion in 2013, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the world output.

The China-led RCEP trade negotiations will conclude by the end of next year, Economic Ministers from the 16 countries said in August this year. India had skipped the August meet held in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar and the negotiations had hence failed to reach consensus on a target for tariff removal.

The RCEP aims to tie together ASEAN’s bilateral free trade agreements with each trading partner. With almost half of the world’s population, RCEP economies represent a massive market.

The Narendra Modi government in New Delhi has said it does not see the number of products subject to tariffs cut beyond 40 per cent, while some nations are targeting 80-90 per cent.

RCEP adds to a burgeoning slew of regional and sectoral trade negotiations that sprung up after a decade of talks failed to conclude a global trade deal, the so-called Doha Round.

Discussions on the trade deal came as Beijing tried to counter US’ progress in forming a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that excludes China.

“We’re organising trade relations with countries other than China so that China starts feeling more pressure about meeting basic international standards,” Obama said referring to the TPP in a presidential debate in 2012.

China and India are not included in the US-led TPP trade pact.

 

TBP

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