New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) Pressure is mounting on member countries including India for early conclusion of proposed free tarde pact, RCEP, government sources said.
Trade ministers of 16 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries will meet on July 1 in Tokyo to take stock of the negotiations. Talks for the pact had started in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in November 2012.
"There is a pressure to conclude the negotiations at the earliest. Lot of issues are yet to be ironed out in areas like goods and services," said a source.
The mega trade pact aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
In the recently concluded 22nd round of negotiations in Singapore, issues were raised about the slow pace of talks.
RCEP bloc comprises 10 Asean members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners - India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The talks have dragged on as the member countries want an agreement over removal of customs duties on maximum number of products traded between them. However, countries like India have certain reservations on this as the grouping includes China, with which New Delhi has huge trade deficit.
Indian industry and exporters are apprehensive about the presence of China in the grouping. They have stated that lowering or eliminating duties for China may flood Indian markets with Chinese goods.
Besides, countries like India want greater liberalisation in the services sector trade, which is a key component in the domestic economy.
Some experts have warned over the impact of the trade agreement on India's trade.
Biswajit Dhar, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University is of the view that India should be very cautious about this pact because the kind of market access and tariff cuts RCEP countries are demanding including in agriculture sector, it would be difficult for India to sustain in the long run.
India's trade deficit with China stood at USD 51 billion in 2016-17. India wants certain deviations for such countries. Under deviations, India may propose a longer duration for either reduction or elimination of import duties for such countries.