Modi Rejects China Backed RCEP Deal, Returns after a Grand Show in Bangkok
| IOP Desk - 05 Nov 2019

‘Quad’ Reviews Regional Security; Supports ASEAN-led Mechanisms for Indo-Pacific

US, India, Australia, Japan Reaffirmed firm support for ASEAN-Centrality and ASEAN-led mechanisms in the regional architecture for the Indo-Pacific

By Onkareshwar Pandey

DELHI/BANGKOK, NOV 05, 2019: After rejecting China-backed deal on RCEP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned to India after concluding his 3-day visit to Thailand, where he participated in 16th ASEAN-India Summit, 14th East Asia Summit, 3rd RCEP Summit, and a grand Indian Diaspora event at Bangkok.

China joined 14 countries in agreeing with terms for what could be the world’s biggest trade pact, but India pulled out at the last minute on the grounds that the deal would hurt its farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers.

Prime Minister Modi, who attended Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, where the leaders of the member countries reviewed the state of negotiations which are ongoing in Bangkok currently and will continue over the next few days, said, “India will not join the RCEP deal as negotiations failed to satisfactorily address New Delhi's "outstanding issues and concerns".

He made the announcement during his speech at the RCEP Summit, which was attended by several world leaders.

India has been worried that the agreement, which requires the gradual elimination of tariffs, would open its markets to a flood of cheap Chinese goods and agricultural produce from Australia and New Zealand that would harm local producers.

Prime Minister Modi said that he had to take into account the interests of Indian people.

“When I measure the RCEP Agreement with respect to the interests of all Indians, I do not get a positive answer,” Modi said in a speech in Bangkok, according to a government note.

“Neither the Talisman of Gandhiji nor my own conscience permit me to join RCEP,” he said, in a reference to “father of the nation” Mahatma Gandhi’s maxim to always think of the poorest in society in a situation of doubt.

Earlier, while addressing a meeting of AICC office bearers and senior leaders of the party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had said the Centre is now ready to deal a body blow to the country by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) – the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries.

"This will result in untold hardship for our farmers, shopkeepers, small & medium enterprises with serious repercussions for the people. We can ill afford to become a dumping ground for products - including agricultural produce from foreign countries," she said.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was quick to hit out at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, asking her why she did not speak up when India joined negotiations for the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement pact in 2011-12 during the UPA regime.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement among 10 ASEAN countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam and their six FTA partners China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Before leaving for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok and held a delegation-level meeting on Monday.

Along with the Prime Minister, external affairs minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and other dignitaries attended the meeting.

Earlier, Mr Modi speaking at the 14th East Asia Summit, outlined global challenges facing the world today.  He also highlighted the need for working together to find out common solutions. 

East Asia Summit is a leaders-led platform, where discussions are held on various developments in the region.

The agenda for this edition of the summit was to review the future direction of East Asia Summit co-operation and exchange views on regional and international issues.

Mr Modi also met Prime Minister of Vitenman on the sidelines of the summit. Minister Narendra also met his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit. Both the leaders reviewed the evolving security scenario in the Indo-Pacific and agreed to further bolster bilateral cooperation in third countries for peace, prosperity and development in the region.

In a tweet, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar wrote, Prime minister said that he eagerly looked forward to welcoming the Japanese prime minister in India next month for the annual India-Japan summit.

Mr Modi also said that he was convinced of the success of the forthcoming annual summit in further deepening the India-Japan special strategic and global partnership.

PM Modi, who arrived in Bangkok on Saturday on a three-day visit, addressed at least 2.5 lakh NRIs in the Thai capital. He stressed India-Thailand's centuries-old ties, common values and what his govt is doing to fulfill his ambitious dream of turning India into a $5 trillion economy.

PM Modi made a strong appeal to the business leaders to invest in India saying that this is the best time to be in the country.

"I am eager to give you a picture of some positive changes happening in India today. I say this with full confidence, this is the best time to be in India," PM said while speaking at an event here, where he outlined various endeavours of the government of India.

Prime Minister Modi spoke about India's improved position in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking and said, "Many things are rising while others are falling. Ease of doing business, ease of living, FDI, forest cover, patents, productivity are rising while taxes, tax rates, red-tapism, corruption, cronyism are falling. The corrupts are running for cover."

Modi also emphasised that India and Thailand have strong cultural linkages and said that commerce and culture have inherent powers to unite.

Meanwhile, senior officials from the United States, Australia, India, and Japan ('Quad' countries) met in Bangkok on Monday, November 4, 2019, for consultations on collective efforts to advance a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific based on shared values and principles and respect for international law.

The U.S. state department spokesperson said in a statement, “The four nations reaffirmed their support for a rules-based order in the region that promotes stability, growth, and economic prosperity.”

“The officials continued productive discussions held at the September 26 Quad Ministerial, advancing practical collaboration on counter-terrorism, cyber, development finance, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response, said the U.S. state department.

“They explored ways to enhance coordination on quality infrastructure based upon international standards such as the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, and discussed strengthening partnerships with existing regional frameworks, the statement said.

“They also explored ways to work together in the Mekong sub-region and across the Indo-Pacific. The officials commended Thailand’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2019 and looked forward to Vietnam’s chairmanship in 2020.  The four countries underscored their intent to continue regular consultations, including at the Ministerial level, and agreed to hold the next senior officials’ meeting in spring 2020,” the U.S. state department spokesperson added.

The External Affairs Ministry in Delhi said in a statement, “senior officials of the 'Quad' countries held consultations on the situation in Indo-Pacific and supported an ASEAN led mechanisms for the regional architecture for the region.”

The MEA statement said, the officials reiterated their firm support for ASEAN-Centrality and ASEAN-led mechanisms in the regional architecture for the Indo-Pacific and expressed their readiness to work with ASEAN and all other countries towards realizing a common and promising vision for the region.

The MEA said the officials exchanged views on ongoing and additional practical cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development, and security matters, including counterterrorism, cyber and maritime security, with a view to promoting peace, security, stability, prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

In November 2017, India, the US, Australia, and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "Quad" Coalition to develop a new strategy for keeping the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence. (With inputs from ANI and other media)

Image Courtesy – The Diplomat / Voice of Freedom / Asia Nikkei

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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post, and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANIhttp://bit.ly/2mh7hih)


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INDIAN OBSERVER POST (IOP) is a Class, Creative, and Constructive News platform which publishes ONLY exclusive and Special News / Views / Interviews / Research Articles / Analysis / Columns / Features and Opinions on the national and international issues, politics, security, energy, innovation, infrastructure, rural, health, education, women, and entertainment. Email – editor@indianobserverpost.com


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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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