India to participate in East Asia mega trade talks

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 19, 2012 16:42 hrs

Phnom Penh: India will participate in negotiations for a mega trade agreement among 16 East Asian nations aimed to bring down trade barriers and cut customs duties across the region in the Cambodian capital Tuesday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will participate in the launch of discussions for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

The prime minister, who will attend the 7th East Asia summit here Tuesday, said: "Tomorrow we will participate in the 7th East Asia Summit and launch the RCEP negotiations.

Ten Asean members −− Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam −− and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, their six dialogue partners, created the RCEP at the Asean plus six meeting in Bali, Indonesia, last year.

The East Asia region accounts for more than three billion of the world's population and approximately 40 percent of the GDP.

The agreement could be in place in another three years, according to reports.

The US and Russia, who have observer status at the EAS, are not involved in the RCEP.

According to an Organisation for Economic Co−operation and Development (OECD) report, Asean nations are expected to average an annual rate of 5.5 percent growth over the 2013−17 period. The OECD report was released in Phnom Penh on Sunday.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told journalists Sunday that the Asean economic ministers had firmed up the draft of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in August this year, and the summit would take a view on it.

"The summit (East Asia) will consider the recommendations and take an appropriate view," he had said. A statement will be issued at the summit to convey "with clarity" the status on the RCEP.

The partnership is of major importance, considering the "shift in the global architecture" and the economic output of the countries of the region, Sharma had said.

Sanjay Singh, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, said that India wants to participate in the RCEP and in creation for an open balanced architecture for the region."

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