Thai government spokesman Narummon Pinyosinwat said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is unlikely to be signed at the ongoing ASEAN Summit in Thailand.
The deal involves the 10 ASEAN nations, China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It will more likely be signed in February 2020.
In his opening speech at the ASEAN – India Summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t mention anything about the RCEP. He, however, called for more corporation with ASEAN in areas “of mutual interest”. Modi also showed his commitment towards the RCEP. But he said that if India was to open its massive market, the country’s businesses should also benefit from openings in some areas.
Speaking about India’s economic partnerships with ASEAN, Modi hailed the region’s decision to review the ASEAN – India Trade in Goods Agreement. The review aims to simplify the agreement. Furthermore, he commended the strong relationship between India and the ASEAN.
Domestic Issues in India on RCEP
There has been substantial progress in RCEP’s six-year-old talks. However, rigid domestic opposition has kept India from committing more firmly to the free trade deal. Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi said the agreement would bring “untold hardship” to farmers, shopkeepers, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Congress Party has called for a nationwide protest from tomorrow until Nov 15. The protest will highlight various concerns such as the RCEP, economic slowdown, unemployment, and the agrarian crisis.
India’s manufacturing and agriculture sectors will also suffer a considerable blow, according to the Communist Party of India.
Separately, China has pledged its total commitment to supporting ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has highlighted the progress of drawing up a code of conduct (COC). That COC is for the South China Sea at the ASEAN-China Summit.