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RCEP trade ministers meet for latest round of negotiations in Beijing

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RCEP trade ministers meet for latest round of negotiations in Beijing

rcep negotiations
Photo: Cinoby

Beijing will host trade ministers from key economies in Asia today for talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – a proposed multilateral free trade agreement known commonly as the RCEP.

RCEP encompasses the ten ASEAN countries and its six free trade area partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal has cancelled his visit due to Parliamentary responsibilities; the Indian representative has not been announced yet.

If successful, the deal would lead to liberal trade in goods and services, investment, technology, intellectual property, competition and dispute settlement amongst the parties. This is especially beneficial to Australia, who majorly exports natural resources, and China, who majorly exports manufacturing goods.

However, the RCEP does not set standards in place for environmental and labour practices arising from intraregional trade. Continuing long-term patents to big pharmaceutical companies will prevent countries from trading low-cost generic medicines. Additionally, agricultural and manufacturing lobby groups in India are protesting the pact due to fear of hurting domestic labour through cheap imports.

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While ASEAN and China are pushing to conclude negotiations within the current year, India’s restrictive stance could lead to a further delay in finalising the agreement.

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