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RCEP trade agreement will be a third ‘Jolt’ to Indian economy, says Congress

Bloomberg Quint - 29 October 2019

RCEP trade agreement will be a third ‘Jolt’ to Indian economy, says Congress

The Congress has claimed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, likely to be signed by India next month, would be a “jolt” to the country’s economy. They demanded that the government explain to the people the cost-benefit analysis of the mega free trade agreement involving 16 countries.

The proposed RCEP trade agreement would be the “third jolt” to the Indian economy after demonetisation and ‘flawed’ implementation of goods and services tax, Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“Before signing, the prime minister and Ministry of Commerce and Industry should show to the common man of our country what is the cost benefit of this RCEP,” he said.

“What is going to happen after the third jolt on Indian economy? Now, Make in India has been made Sale in India programme. In place of Make in India, the Government of India has resolved that sell in India, make elsewhere. Its outline has been made through RCEP,” he alleged.

The RCEP trade agreement has been facing ‘increasing’ resistance from the domestic industry, farmer groups, civil society organisations and opposition political parties who apprehend China will dump cheaper goods into India using the free-trade deal, Vallabh said. Even without the RCEP, Chinese imports to India are four times the Indian exports to China, he claimed.

The RCEP would adversely affect farmers as there would be intellectual property rights issues in using seeds, he said, adding that the IT services industry would also come under the scheme.

“All our products, all our USPs would go there (foreign countries) duty-free. How will you save IT industry?” Vallabh said.

The details of the RCEP trade agreeent were not available on government websites, Vallabh said, demanding that the National Democratic Alliance should inform the country if any study had been made about its impact on micro, small and medium enterprises and to protect the interests of farmers, pharma and IT industries.

The RCEP is being negotiated among 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six free-trade pact partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Congress had on Friday decided to oppose the pact, saying it would prove to be suicidal as the time is not right for the pact which will increase imports from China. Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said the government will protect the interest of domestic industry before entering signing RCEP.

 source: Bloomberg Quint