- India has said that it would be premature to suggest that India could be left out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP).
- This statement came after Malaysian Prime Minister had said that he would prefer to go ahead with the RCEP Pact immediately and allow countries such as India, Australia and New Zealand to join the pact at a future date.
- RCEP is proposed mega trade pact between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing Free trade agreements(FTA’s)(Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
- It aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates.It also seeks to liberalise investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.
- India has repeatedly advocated that the agreement needs to be comprehensive in nature.India is concerned about (a)trade pact will allow greater access to Chinese goods which may have an impact on the Indian manufacturing sector (b)There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs duties on a number of products and greater access to foreign goods in the Indian market.
- Further,Australia and New Zealand are pushing for high quality rules around labour and environmental protections.
- Japan and South Korea have also been advocating for ‘TRIPS Plus’ IP protection regimes in the RCEP.If these proposals are agreed upon,then it could adversely affect the generic medicine sector in India by undermining provisions in Indian Patents Act.
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