Chinese authorities have said that they will follow the principle of “mutual understanding and accommodation” to resolve the outstanding issues raised by India for not joining the Beijing-backed mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
China also said it would welcome India joining the deal at an early date.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday conveyed India’s decision not to join the 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.
“The present form of the RCEP Agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirt and the agreed guiding principles of the RCEP. It also does not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns. In such a situation, it is not possible for India to join RCEP Agreement,” Modi said.
India has been forcefully raising the issue of market access as well as protected lists of goods mainly to shield its domestic market as there have been fears that the country may be flooded with cheap Chinese agricultural and industrial products once it signs the deal.
Asked for China’s comments on India not joining the RCEP deal over concern of cheap Chinese products potentially harming its domestic industry, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media here on Tuesday that China welcomes India joining the deal.
“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,” he said.
He said the RCEP is a regional trade agreement and mutually beneficial in nature.
“If it is signed and put into implementation it is conducive for the Indian goods entry into China and other participating countries. In the same vein, it will also help Chinese goods to enter the markets of India and other participating countries,” he said.
“This is two-way and complementary (deal) and I should point out that China and India are both emerging major developing countries. We have a huge market of 2.7 billion people and there is a big potential in the market,” he said.
Geng said, “over the past five years’ Chinese imports from India have been increased by 15 per cent. We do not deliberately pursue trade surplus against India.
We can expand and increase our cooperation in investment, production capacity and tourism and make a bigger pie out of cooperation for sustainable and balanced development.”
Asked whether India’s decision not to sign the deal would dent the RCEP deal, Geng reiterated that China is willing to work with all parties on the principle of mutual understanding and accommodation and continue to solve the outstanding issues.
“We welcome India joining at an early date,” he said and referred to the joint statement issued after the RCEP summit on Monday which stated “India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved. All RCEP Participating Countries will work together to resolve these outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way. India’s final decision will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues”.