India is now preparing a final list of products on which it may continue to impose import tariffs for China in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, as per sources. The trade ministry officials in New Delhi met on Thursday to discuss India’s demands and the concessions it has prepared to offer. The government is in the process of making a final list based on their plan of differential tariff reduction. However, China, along with other countries including Australia and New Zealand seem to oppose this idea as it provides the least benefits to them.
According to reports, a senior government official said, “Considering our sensitivity to imports from China, this has been the case throughout and an extensive list is being prepared. ”He also added that "The list is unfinished and will be being drawn up after extensive consultation with domestic industry."
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their six free-trade partners such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. As per sources, other nations have also confirmed that the commitments to reduce tariffs are now dependent on individual nations. This may result in each nation setting a specific tariff reduction.
Earlier, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said, "India will protect its national interests and it's domestic industry while signing the RCEP agreement." Reportedly, This is the first time the government is fixing such a ceiling in any trade deal, particularly for China. Earlier, India had agreed to reduce tariffs on 76 per cent of all items for all nations, apart from special measures for China.
The government has also dismissed the idea of an early harvest approach to the RCEP talks which means the agreement would be signed after some issues had been agreed upon, while others would be resolved eventually. As per sources, the representatives of all member states will be discussing pending issues to come out with a possible course for the trade deal.