India Must Build Capabilities to Reap RCEP Benefits
India needs to build capabilities to produce high value goods at competitive prices to reap benefits arising out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a SBI Ecowrap report said.
The mega free trade agreement (FTA) is currently being negotiated between Asean member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The RCEP negotiations include trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce and small and medium enterprises, among others.
The negotiations have gone through several rounds already and it is expected that the deal will be signed by this year. There are 25 chapters to be negotiated and countries have reached a conclusion on a majority of topics.
However, India ran a merchandise trade deficit with 11 out of the 15 other members of RCEP in 2018-19, totaling $107.28 billion.
In 2018-19, 34 per cent of India's imports were from this region, while only 21 per cent of India's exports went to this region.
"Just entering into agreements and focusing on tariff reduction won't help unless, India takes up the task of building high value goods at competitive prices. All these factors have to be kept in mind before entering into the RCEP," the report said.
"A long run vision which entails extensive focus on innovation and research is also needed so that Indian exports, both goods and services, are top-notch while remaining competitively priced."