PM Modi calls for early conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday highlighted the need for an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement through multilateral and bilateral talks among the member countries.

According to Sudhanshu Pandey, Additional Secretary with the Commerce Ministry, Prime Minister Modi also called for a balanced and mutually beneficial RCEP pact.

“An important point that was made was relating to early conclusion of the negotiations by fast-tracking and intensifying negotiations both multilaterally and bilaterally,” Pandey said at a media briefing after the second RCEP summit level meeting held here.

Further, Pandey said the Prime Minister emphasised that multilateral agreements such as RCEP, which have “diverse circumstances and developmental requirements, should be modern, comprehensive, balanced and mutually beneficial.”

However, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations was unable to conclude negotiations for the RCEP during the meet which was held alongside the ASEAN summit, postponing the agreement till 2019.

The RCEP is a proposed free-trade agreement between ASEAN and six Asia-Pacific states with which the regional bloc has existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) — namely China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

In addition, the Prime Minister is said to have also acknowledged the progress made in negotiations on market access for goods and said similar efforts should be made in the services-sector negotiations.

“We need to make similar efforts to make progress in services negotiations as they constitute more than 50 per cent of the GDP of most of the RCEP countries, and in future services are going to play a very important role,” Pandey quoted Modi as saying.

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