China on Wednesday played down India's decision not to join the mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, saying the members of the grouping are prepared to work together to address New Delhi's concerns.
Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister and top trade negotiator Wang Shouwen also expressed confidence that the differences would be resolved by the end of this year.
Fifteen nations from the Asia-Pacific region the 10 ASEAN nations plus Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand agreed on the outline of the trade pact on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday conveyed India's decision not to join the China-backed RCEP deal at a summit meeting of the 16-nation bloc, effectively wrecking its aim to create the world's largest free trade area having half of the world's population.
Commenting on India's decision, Wang said that China and the 14 other member states respected India's outstanding concerns and they are prepared to work together to address them.
"We must, together with India, work hard to solve these problems. India must decide on the basis of this resolution whether to enter into the agreement," Wang was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Wang did not elaborate on India's points of contention, but said they were not just with China alone. The current member states would settle the very few remaining questions around market access before the end of the year, he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that Beijing will follow the principle of "mutual understanding and accommodation" to resolve the outstanding issues raised by India for not joining the RCEP.
On India's concerns that Chinese products potentially harming its domestic industry, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media here on Tuesday that China welcomes India joining the deal at an early date.
"The RCEP is open. We will follow the principle of mutual understanding and accommodation to negotiate and resolve those outstanding problems raised by India and we welcome an early joining by India," Geng said.
He said the RCEP is a regional trade agreement and mutually beneficial in nature. "We welcome India joining at an early date," he said.
Wang said the RCEP will boost the confidence of the world economy and investors.
The agreement will forge a unified system of rules within the region, thus reducing operating costs and uncertain risks, and bringing huge convenience to import and export companies in the region, said Wang, who is also China's Deputy International Trade Representative.
Considering its diversified membership structure including both the most developed countries and the least developed ones, Wang said the RCEP would have profound significance for the future formation of global trade rules.
Once signed, the RCEP will help advance China's efforts in stabilising foreign trade and foreign capital, as well as promote the development of sound, sustainable and stable foreign trade, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Data from the ministry showed that China's trade with the other 14 countries participating in the RCEP surpassed USD 1.3 trillion last year, around one-third of its aggregate foreign trade.