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Regional trade pact rewarding for all: Indian minister
Publication Date : 28-08-2013
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be equally rewarding for all the parties involved in the proposed trade pact, said India's Minister of Commerce and Industry.
The RCEP is a different concept altogether and is an initiative which "has not been conceptualised in linkage with other initiatives," said Anand Sharma in an interview with The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the recent 45th Asean Economic Ministers' Meeting held in Brunei.
The proposed trade pact to be undertaken between Asean and its six dialogue partners, he added, is "of much interest" to everyone involved.
"I think it will be rewarding for all. We are not looking or approaching it only from the perspective of what would be each country's gain or India's gain," he said.
Sharma said India's more than a decade-old "Look East" policy and focused approach have helped build strong trade relations with Asean.
"And it's very clear that India feels that historically, culturally, economically, we are linked to this dynamic region and this has to have its natural progression, as they are and rightfully so, initiatives are being taken for building greater economic partnership and economic communities which Asean did earlier, which is a successful model," he said.
"But for the larger integration of East Asia or Asia and also linking the two oceans, because we also have the countries representing the Pacific coming in, and that would be very useful because Indian Ocean is very important for trade and economic activitity and for security among others."
"And when we look at the potential and the strength, you're talking of countries which represent 45 per cent of the world's population."
Sharma could not divulge further details when asked about actual provisions included in the discussions.
"I think it's too early, only one meeting of the trade negotiations has taken place. And the second meeting is to take place in Brisbane in September," he said,
Indonesia Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan recently said that the RCEP should be treated as a single undertaking and participating countries' schedule of commitments must be arranged in a "collective manner".
Referring to provisions in the agreement to facilitate trade and investment, as well as to enhance transparency in trade and investment relations between participating countries, Gita said that the guiding principles of the RCEP had been agreed upon last year.
RCEP, touted to be one of the world's largest free trade pacts, was launched by Asean and its six trading partners Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand on the sidelines of the 21st Asean Summit held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last year.
It has been recognised that the RCEP could potentially lead to the creation of one of the world's largest free trade areas, establishing an integrated market comprising over three billion people with a combined gross domestic product of about US$17.23 trillion, based on 2010 figures.