The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Agreement: What it Means for India

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega free trade agreement (FTA) that was signed on November 15, 2020, between 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. The deal represents the largest FTA in history, covering a population of 2.2 billion and accounting for 30% of the world`s GDP.

The RCEP trade agreement aims to facilitate trade and investment flows between the participating countries by reducing tariffs, eliminating non-tariff barriers, and harmonizing rules and regulations. The pact will also establish common standards for intellectual property, e-commerce, and competition policy.

For India, the RCEP trade agreement represents a significant opportunity to increase its trade and investment linkages with the Asia-Pacific region. According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India`s merchandise trade with RCEP countries was valued at $323 billion in 2019-20, accounting for nearly 57% of its total trade with the world.

The RCEP trade agreement is expected to benefit India`s exporters of goods and services, particularly in the sectors of textiles, pharmaceuticals, and information technology. The pact will provide these sectors with greater market access in the Asia-Pacific region by reducing or eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

However, some experts have expressed concerns that the RCEP trade agreement could hurt India`s domestic industries, particularly its farmers and small-scale manufacturers. They argue that the pact could lead to a flood of cheaper imports from other RCEP countries, putting Indian producers at a disadvantage.

To address these concerns, the Indian government negotiated several safeguards in the RCEP trade agreement, including provisions for differential treatment of developing countries, special and differential treatment for India`s sensitive sectors, and periodic review of the trade liberalization process.

Overall, the RCEP trade agreement represents a significant opportunity for India to boost its economic growth and increase its global competitiveness. However, it will require careful implementation and monitoring to ensure that the pact benefits all sectors of the Indian economy.