Only 40% of RCEP items finalized: official

With just about 40% of the agenda items having been resolved, there is still a long way to go before the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks are concluded, according to officials in the Commerce Ministry. They added that it was agreed during the recently-concluded Singapore Ministerial meeting that the deadline for an agreement is shifted to 2019.

India had scored big diplomatic points at the Singapore meeting by getting the countries gathered to omit the phrase ‘significant conclusions’ from the leaders’ statements. Some major economies such as China and Japan felt that the phrasing should be that “substantial conclusions” had been achieved. India strongly opposed this.

India discovered that in some countries’ trade parlance, ‘substantial conclusions’ is legal terminology. Adopting the term would have implied that discussions on market access were over and that those countries would have to disclose the discussions to their Parliaments, and to their public. This has serious implications because only five out of 16 chapters had been concluded, and after the meeting in Singapore, only seven had been concluded. None of the 7 chapters settled had to do with market access, discussions on which would have been seriously jeopardized.

After India pointed this out, several other countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Australia also took up the issue and supported India’s position on the matter.

What do you need to know about RCEP?

RCEP is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand).

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.

RCEP aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates. It also seeks to liberalize investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.

Why has it assumed so much significance in recent times?

When inked, it would become the world’s biggest free trade pact. This is because the 16 nations account for a total GDP of about $50 trillion and house close to 3.5 billion people. India (GDP-PPP worth $9.5 trillion and a population of 1.3 billion) and China (GDP-PPP of $23.2 trillion and a population of 1.4 billion) together comprise the RCEP’s biggest component in terms of market size.

Greater access to Chinese goods may have an impact on the Indian manufacturing sector. India has got a massive trade deficit with China. Under these circumstances, India proposed a differential market access strategy for China.

There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.

If India is out of the RCEP, it would make its exports price uncompetitive with other RCEP members’ exports in each RCEP market, and the ensuing export-losses contributing to foreign exchange shortages and the subsequent extent of depreciation of the rupee can only be left to the imagination. Some of the sectors that have been identified as potential sources of India’s export growth impulses under RCEP to the tune of approximately $200 billion.

There are more compelling trade and economic reasons for RCEP to become India-led in future, than otherwise. India would get greater market access in other countries not only in terms of goods but in services and investments also.

Please follow and like us:

World Customs Organisation’s regional meet takes off in Jaipur

A four-day regional meeting of the World Customs Organisation began here Tuesday with representatives of 33 member countries of Asia attending it.

The meeting is slated to deliberate upon various issues including the steps required for the capacity building and reforms in customs, an official release said.

The meeting deliberated upon various issues including the steps required for the capacity building and reforms in customs.

It also discussed and deliberated upon amended Kyoto protocol, digital customs, e-commerce among other issues.

Summary of various efforts made by the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) for trade facilitation was also tabled in the meeting.

World Customs Organisation (WCO):

  • WCO is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. It was established in 1952 as Customs Co-operation Council (CCC). It is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and is considered as the voice of the international Customs community.
  • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
  • It represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.
  • It plays a leading role in the discussion, development, promotion, and implementation of modern customs systems and procedures. It offers a range of Conventions and other international instruments, as well as technical assistance and training services to its members. It also actively supports its members in their endeavors to modernize and build capacity within their national Customs administrations.
  • It aims to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of member customs administrations and assist them to contribute successfully to national development goals, particularly revenue collection, national security, trade facilitation, community protection, and collection of trade statistics.
Please follow and like us:

C. R. Chaudhary Attends 6th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting in Singapore

The Minister of State for Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution C. R. Chaudhary, attended the 6th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting (IMM) in Singapore on 12-13 October 2018. The Ministers from 16 RCEP countries met in Singapore to discuss a modern, comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement among ASEAN and ASEAN’s FTA partners.

Trade ministers of 16-member RCEP bloc, including India and China, have urged all participating countries to continue to exert all efforts for early conclusion of the negotiations.

The meeting assumes significance as there is a tremendous pressure on India to conclude the negotiations as early as possible despite the fact that several issues pertaining to goods and services have yet to be agreed upon by the member countries.

What do you need to know about RCEP?

RCEP is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand).

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. RCEP aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates. It also seeks to liberalize investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.

Greater access to Chinese goods may have an impact on the Indian manufacturing sector. India has already got a massive trade deficit with China.

There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.

Challenges ahead for India:

More developed countries such as Australia and Singapore are unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalize their services regime and allow freer mobility of Indian workers.

The negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, among 16 Asian and Pacific Ocean countries, have entered a decisive phase. Most potential member-countries of the grouping would like to see a “substantive agreement” on the trade deal by the end of this year.

At a meeting in Singapore countries which still have issues with the outline of the agreements reached so far may be told politely to step aside and allow a smaller group to go ahead with finalizing the RCEP.

Please follow and like us:

21 IORA Countries adopt the Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy; To Collaborate with ISA Member Countries

As many as 21 countries in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) today adopted the Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy in the Indian Ocean Region, post the 2nd IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting held at the 2nd Global Re-Invest India-ISA Partnership Renewable Energy Investor’s Meet & Expo in Greater Noida.

The Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy in the Indian Ocean Region calls for collaboration among IORA member states in meeting the growing demand for renewable energy in the Indian Ocean littorals, development of a common renewable energy agenda for the Indian Ocean region and promote regional capacity building.

The declaration also calls for promotion of technology development and transfer, strengthening of public private partnerships in renewable energy and collaboration among IORA member states and the member nations of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). IORA member countries also resolved to collaborate with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As per the declaration adopted, IORA member nations will collaborate with the ISA member nations to exchange knowledge and share views and potential interests in the renewable energy sector; paved by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between IORA and ISA on 3 October 2018, with a focus on joint capacity-building programs, research & development activities in solar energy and exchange of best practices.

Additionally, IORA member nations and IRENA will undertake the expansion of the Global Renewable Energy Atlas, the world’s largest-ever joint renewable resource data project, coordinated by IRENA, thereby creating the Indian Ocean region’s first and most comprehensive map and database which can then be used to tap the sizable renewable energy potential of the region; and to collaborate on opportunities available under the International Renewable Energy Learning Platform (IRELP).

The Indian Ocean Rim Association was set up with the objective of strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region with 21 Member States and 7 Dialogue Partners. The last Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting was held on 21st January, 2014 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Subsequently, during the meeting of IORA Council of Ministers, held in October, 2016 in Bali, Indonesia, it was decided that the next conference will be held in India. In line with the commitment made, India hosted the 2nd IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial meet today.

About IORA:

The Indian Ocean Rim Association was set up with the objective of strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region with 21 Member States and 7 Dialogue Partners.

The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.

It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.

India, Australia, Iran IR, Indonesia Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, Madagascar, UAE, Yemen, Seychelles, Somalia, Comoros and Oman are members of IORA.

Originated during a visit by late President Nelson Mandela of South Africa to India in 1995.

Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius– 1995

Indian Ocean Rim Association (then known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation) – March 1997

Indian Ocean Rim Initiative & Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of

  • Government
  • Business
  • Academia

It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region. The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.

Objectives

To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states

To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits

To promote liberalization, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.

Priority areas

a) Council of Ministers Meeting held in Tehran (2007) identified 6 priority areas for medium to long term association:

  • Maritime Security,
  • Trade and Investment facilitation,
  • Fisheries management,
  • Disaster risk reduction,
  • Academic and scientific cooperation and
  • Tourism promotion and cultural exchanges.
Please follow and like us:

International Women Entrepreneurs Summit gets underway in Nepal

Vice President of Nepal Nanda Bahadur Pun inaugurated International Women Entrepreneurs Summit

The theme of the 3-day event is “Equality begins with Economic Empowerment”.

The main objective of the summit is to bring together achievers, women business leaders, professionals, international service providers, resource organizations, experts, government representatives, and other stakeholders with a focus on innovative economic transformation through discussions and collaborations.

South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF):

SAWDF is an autonomous, nonprofit organization based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

It was granted the status of SAARC Recognized Body by 36th Session of SAARC Council Ministers at 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in 2014.

It is the first SAARC Recognized Body organization working on women entrepreneurs issues.

It represents national women entrepreneurs’ associations or organizations, institutions working towards economic issues of women entrepreneurs in the SAARC Region.

Its membership is based on organizations with extensive work around women’s entrepreneurship.

Please follow and like us:

6th East Asia Summit and 15th India-ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting held in Singapore

Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu attended the 6th East Asia Summit- Economic Ministers’ Meeting (EAS-EMM) and 15th India-ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) in Singapore today. Singapore is currently holding the Chair of ASEAN.

The 6th East-Asia Economic Ministers’  Meeting was chaired by Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore, and was attended by Economic Ministers from  10  ASEAN countries  and their eight  dialogue partners,  Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.  The Ministers welcomed the higher global economic growth forecast for  2018  and took note of the increasing importance of trade and investment relations among the EAS economies.  Acknowledging the potential for disruptions in the macro-economy that could affect overall market sentiments and global growth, the EAS-EMM forum expressed the hope that the economic linkages among the EAS members will enable them to address these challenges.

Outcomes of the meeting:

The 6th East-Asia Economic Ministers’ Meeting was attended by Economic Ministers from 10  ASEAN countries and their eight dialogue partners,  Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.

Acknowledging the potential for disruptions in the macro-economy that could affect overall market sentiments and global growth, the EAS-EMM forum expressed the hope that the economic linkages among the EAS members will enable them to address these challenges.

The Ministers agreed to the importance of keeping markets open and fair as well as improving transparency and predictability of the business environment.

The meeting recognized the importance of ongoing work to maximize the opportunities of and address the challenges presented by, the digital economy and the rise of regional and global value chains, as part of their efforts to promote economic growth and integration in the region.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions. Membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.

EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.

EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.

EAS has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues of common regional concern and plays an important role in the regional architecture.

There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are – Environment and Energy, Education, Finance, Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases, Natural Disaster Management, and ASEAN Connectivity. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.

The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad. The final report of the East Asian Study Group in 2002, established by the ASEAN+3 countries (i.e. China, Japan, and ROK), recommended EAS as an ASEAN led development limited to the ASEAN +3 countries.

However, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held in Vientiane on July 26, 2005, welcomed the participation of ASEAN, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, India, and New Zealand, in the first EAS. The USA and the Russian Federation were formally included as members of the EAS at the 6th EAS held in Bali, Indonesia on 19 November 2011.

EAS, representing nearly 50% of the world’s population and over 20% of global trade, is a mega-gathering and is a testimony to the rise of Asia and how rapidly the world’s politico-economic equations are shifting.

Please follow and like us:

Fourth BIMSTEC Summit Declaration, Kathmandu, Nepal

Member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will sign an agreement to establish electricity grid interconnection at a summit next week in Kathmandu,

THEME OF BIMSTEC SUMMIT 2018: The theme of the fourth BIMSTEC summit is ‘Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region’.

Kathmandu Declaration:

The Fourth BIMSTEC Summit concluded with an 18-point Kathmandu Declaration. The declaration is expected to enhance the effectiveness of the BIMSTEC Secretariat by engaging it in various technical and economic activities in the region.

The Kathmandu Declaration has underlined the importance of multidimensional connectivity as a key enabler to economic integration for the shared prosperity of the region. The declaration also highlighted the importance of trade and investment as one of the major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region.

The declaration said the “fight against terrorism should target not only terrorists, terror organizations and networks but also identify and hold accountable States and non-State entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups and falsely extol their virtues.”

It asked all nations to devise a comprehensive approach which should include preventing financing of terrorists and terrorist actions from territories under their control, blocking recruitment and cross-border movement of terrorists, countering radicalization, countering misuse of the internet for purposes of terrorism and dismantling terrorist safe havens.

It said that combating terrorism and transnational organized crimes require sustained efforts and cooperation and a comprehensive approach involving active participation and collaboration of the Member States.

The declaration also recognized that eradication of poverty is the greatest regional challenge in realizing development objectives and expressed firm commitment to work together for implementing the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising of seven member states in South Asia and Southeast Asia lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.

This sub-regional organization came into being on June 6, 1997, through the Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

It comprises of seven member countries: five deriving from South Asia — including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka — and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.

Initially, the economic bloc was formed with four Member States with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation).

Following the inclusion of Myanmar during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on December 22, 1997, the group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation).

With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan at the 6th Ministerial Meeting in February 2004, the name of the grouping was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC).

BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization. Technological and economic cooperation among South Asian and Southeast Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal is its main objective.

Starting with six sectors-including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries-for sectoral cooperation in late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors-including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change-in 2008.

Please follow and like us: