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    India under pressure to cut tariffs in RCEP talks as China factor looms

    India under pressure to cut tariffs in RCEP talks as China factor looms

    India under pressure to cut tariffs in RCEP talks as China factor looms
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    By Rituparna Bhuyan   IST (Updated)

    India is under pressure to commit massive duty cuts in the ongoing negotiations of a 16 nation mega free trade agreement (FTA), in which China is also a member.
    The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is a proposed trade pact that seeks to rival the Trans Atlantic Partnership (TPP)agreement.
    Other members of RCEP include Australia, Japan New Zealand and ASEAN nations.
    Sources in the know told CNBC-TV18 that RCEP members have upped the ante on negotiations and will seek to exchange specific proposals on tariff cuts in two meetings scheduled in June and July.
    The first meeting, scheduled in mid June at Tokyo, Japan, will be followed up by a meeting of trade ministers of RCEP nations in the same city on July 1.
    "There are several bilateral meetings scheduled between Indian negotiators and other RCEP nations, including China, where there will be pressure to commit to elimination of duty in large number of products" said a source in the know.
    Till now, India has tactically stayed clear of committing to duty cuts in RCEP talks.
    Meanwhile, several government departments have also raised red flags on RCEP trade talks.
    "Niti Ayog, Steel Ministry and several other departments have advised Commerce Ministry to be cautious while negotiating RCEP," the source added.
    "Many see RCEP FTA as threat because China is a member of the group," source said.
    Several Indian companies from the steel and metal sectors have also warned Indian trade negotiators to stay away from agreeing to any duty cuts in the RCEP FTA talks.
    RCEP nay sayers in India point out that the trade deficit of the country with RCEP members stand at a staggering $105 billion, which is two thirds of the total trade deficit in FY18.
    China tops the list, with India having a massive trade deficit of $61 billion in the last fiscal.
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