RCEP important agreement for India: Commerce Secy

Last Updated: Friday, April 4, 2014 - 23:18

New Delhi: The mega free trade agreement - Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an important pact for India and industry should equip itself to avail the opportunities which would emerge from this, a top government official on Friday said.

Allaying industry concerns over free trade agreements that India has implemented with other nations, Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said that businesses should take advantage from these pacts.

"RCEP is an extremely important agreement for India and it can be a game changer. RCEP is a big challenge to industry because we need to equip ourselves to deal with the possibilities of opportunities that is coming out of RCEP," he said here at a Ficci-CUTS function.

The 16-member RCEP comprises 10 Asean members and its six FTA partners namely India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The 16 economies account for over a quarter of the world economy. RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh in November 2012.

India has so far entered into FTAs with Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Asean and South Asia.

"Some times an impression is created that FTAs are inherently wrong or inherently in the negative interest of the country. I thunk that is mis-impression and that needs to be addressed," he said.

On the forthcoming foreign trade policy (FTP) for the period 2014-19, the secretary said that the document this time would focus more on areas like standards and branding of products.

"Hitherto the FTP was essentially being identification of some instruments to promote exports but here now we are trying to contextualised the policy instruments and that is very important," Kher said.

He also asked all the departments to involve in the process of enhancing exports.

"Department of Commerce and information technology are the only two departments which talk about promoting exports and most of the departments and not focused for exports. This is the area where we need to work on," he said.

Further he said that developed countries such as the US and Europe are coming out of new rules and norms which could acts as a non-trade barriers (NTBs) for exports.

"There is so much of NTBS which have evolved particularly from developed world such as the US and Europe...Everyday something new is happening," he said.

Further the secretary added that domestic industry should have to work more on improving standards and branding of products.

"This area is not adequately looked by us. Focus on standard is not adequate here. Standards can keep us out of the market. Greater attention is required on standards. We have to work a lot on how India can be properly equipped to deal with standards," he said.

First Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 - 23:18

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