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RCEP trade ministers to meet in Cambodia on Saturday

twitter-logoPTI | March 1, 2019 | Updated 14:44 IST

New Delhi, Mar 1 (PTI) Commerce ministers of RCEP countries including India and china, which are negotiating a mega trade deal, will hold a crucial meeting in Cambodia on Saturday, according to an official statement. The 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bloc aims to cover among the issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu has reached Siem Reap in Cambodia for the 7th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting to be held on March 2, 2019. The meet will see bilateral sessions and an opening ceremony to be attended by Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen. "In this meeting, developments since the second RCEP summit held on November 14, 2018 in Singapore will be reviewed, particularly the outcomes of the second Special Trade Negotiating Committee meeting held on January 25-26 2019 in Jakarta," the commerce ministry said in a statement. After five years of intense negotiations, India, at the end of the 2nd RCEP summit, is now perceived as a constructive player, providing guidance and building consensus on critical areas by taking into consideration the concerns of all member countries, Prabhu was quoted as saying. "This will ensure that there is no marginalisation of request of smaller countries and there is room for policy space for developing countries in transition as it will help moderate ambitions, particularly in the goods negotiations and lead to balanced and mutually beneficial outcomes," it added. India’s flexibility helped in facilitating successful conclusion of three chapters -- institutional provisions; sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment . RCEP bloc includes 10 countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six free trade pact partners namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. The negotiations have entered the sixth year. During the last five years, 24 rounds of negotiations at the expert level were held. The last round was held from October 18-27, 2018 in Auckland. Besides, six ministerial meetings and seven inter-sessional meetings have been held so far. RCEP members want India to eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on maximum number of goods it traded with them. India’s huge domestic market provides immense opportunity of exports for RCEP countries. But lower level of ambitions in services and investments, a key area of interest for India, does not augur well for the agreement that seeks to be comprehensive in nature. PTI RR ANU ANU

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