India has denied reports of making any last-minute demands at RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), saying its position on the trade deal has been consistent from the very beginning. India has said that it wants "mutually-beneficial" trade deal, in which interests of all 16 nations are taken care of.
"As Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted in his interview with The Bangkok Post (published on 2 November) that 'we have put forward reasonable proposals in a clear manner and are engaged in negotiations with sincerity. We would like to see commensurate levels of ambition on services from many of our partners, even as we are ready to address their sensitivities. Overall, we are clear that a mutually beneficial RCEP, in which all sides gain reasonably, is in interest of India and of all partners in the negotiation," a top government source told India Today.
India and 15 Asia-Pacific countries are expected to announce the outcome of the seven-year negotiations to create the world's largest free trade region on Monday, reported PTI. The delay in firming up the RCEP during the 3-day ASEAN summit in Bangkok was attributed to India's "new demands" on market access, and tariff-related issues. However, India Today sources said it had put no new demands at the event.
Reports also suggest that China is forcefully pushing for inking the deal during the RCEP summit later in the day, which was seen as an attempt to counter-balance the impact of its lingering trade war with the US as well as to project the region's economic might to the West.
The proposed free-trade agreement includes 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and six of the bloc's dialogue partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. When finalised, the RCEP would become the world's largest free trade area, comprising half of the world population and will account for nearly 40 per cent of the global commerce and 35 per cent of the GDP.
Edited by Manoj Sharma with PTI inputsAlso read: PM Modi in Thailand: No deal on Nov 4, RCEP leaders may sign joint statement without concrete outcome