By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 5 November: Australia has finalized the text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with 10 members of the ASEAN alliance. The other partners include Japan, South Korea, and China. The text of the pact is not likely to be revealed until it is signed in 2020.
The name missing is India, where PM Scott Morrison is going in January next year. India not signing the RECP pact in Bangkok, creates a big headache for Australia. And, naturally, it is disappointed.
PM Modi is reported to have said that the pact talks failed to address India’s ‘outstanding issues and concerns’.
“Leaked documents reveal the industrialized countries, including Japan, South Korea and Australia, have been pushing non-tariff rules that suit their major corporations, similar to those in the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
These have been resisted by developing countries, which have more vulnerable populations, and wish to preserve regulatory space to develop local industries.
The contested proposals include foreign investor rights to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars in international tribunals if they can argue a change in law or policy will harm their investment. This is known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS.” reveals an article in The Conversation (India’s not joining the latest free-trade deal which limits Australia’s market access by Pat Ranald, Research Fellow, Sydney University, November 5, 2019 12.22pm AEDT)
India signing the RCEP would have benefitted Australia immensely giving it more access to dairy, agricultural and other products to one of the world’s fast growing economy, though passing through a rough patch at present.
Senator Birmingham, Minister for Trade, on the line from Shanghai in an interview on 2GB, minced no words today when he said, “But we would have liked India to keep up pace with everybody else. They’ve said it’s not the time for them to sign at present, and we respect that decision. The door remains wide open to India. And separately what we had already done knowing that trying to get trade agreements with India is a very difficult proposition, was our government commissioned an India economic strategy.”
“It has many, many different recommendations that we’re acting on. And it’s not just been sitting within my space as the Trade Minister. We have the Agriculture Minister, the Energy Minister, the Education Minister, the Foreign Minister, all acting as champions of working in this space, driving home new opportunities for us to deepen that engagement with India,” he said.
He added, “And our relationship there is very, very strong. Prime Minister Morrison is heading to India in January at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi. And that’s a real demonstration that we’re seeing strong indications of cooperation on a range of levels including economic levels from India. They’ve said they’re going to shortly complete a complementary reverse strategy. So I [indistinct] a strategy at how to deepen our economic ties with India, and they’ve done- done completing one on how to deepen their ties with us, and we warmly welcome that.
So we’re a bit disappointed that they’re not at the RCEP table but very pleased that we’re continuing to find new ways to strengthen trade deals.”