India not obstructionist in RCEP negotiations: Sitharaman


Referring to the changing world order for trade in which countries are becoming defensive about their exports and imports, India’s Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India is certainly not aimless when it comes to trade negotiations. “We do have a picture on how to move ahead,” Ms Sitharaman said. She was addressing a consultation meeting organised by the MEA think tank, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). The statement by Ms Sitharaman comes in the backdrop of India’s chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian recently saying that India’s trade policy is ambivalent.

Emphasising that India is not an obstructionist in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, which comprises 16 countries, Ms Sitharaman said that India will not make any concessions on the offers it has made for opening up goods and services in the agreement and will keep pursuing them. India has been accused of being an obstructionist in the RCEP negotiations by many of the ASEAN countries.

Changing global trade

Focusing on the changing dynamics of global trade, Ms Sitharaman said: “Tariff is not a very powerful tool any longer. Let’s understand trade from a non-tariff route…G-20 countries are getting more defensive.  We also have become defensive on steel import duty.”

When asked that if there is a need to devalue the rupee to help boost exports since exports have been slipping constantly and the currency is considered overvalued, she said: “At today’s juncture, I want the rupee to be devalued”. However, she added that China has a certain level of flexibility of liquidity that it can flush into the system.
The commerce ministry said that it is desirable to look at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had recently expressed India’s interest to join the organisation.



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