Bangkok | Jagran News Desk: Despite India raising doubts over the world’s biggest trade pact, the Southeast Asian countries held talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and would soon make an announcement at the summit in Bangkok, said Thailand on Monday.

The Southeast Asian countries have hoped to announce at least provisional agreement on the RCEP but India had raised doubts over it due to which the negotiations went late into night alongside a summit of the ASEAN countries in Bangkok. However, Thailand Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told Reuters that the negotiations were ‘conclusive’.

“There will be an announcement together on the success of the RCEP agreement by the leaders later today. India is part of this as well and will jointly make the announcement. The signing will be next year,” he said.

The RCEP includes the 10-member grouping of Southeast Asian nations, as well as China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand. When finalised, the RCEP would become the world's largest free trade area, comprising half of the world population and will account for nearly 40 per cent of the global commerce and 35 per cent of the GDP.

Meanwhile, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that they welcome the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations.

“We welcome the conclusion of the RCEP negotiation and (are) committed to sign the RCEP agreement in 2020,” he said.

India, so far, has not commented on the issue and the officials present there are have remained tight-lipped. Indonesia, however, has appealed New Delhi to remain a part of the agreement.

According to reports, India is worried about the potential flood of Chinese imports and raised doubts at the last moment. The country has been forcefully raising the issue of market access as well as protected lists of goods mainly to shield its domestic market as there have been fears that the country may be flooded with cheap Chinese agricultural and industrial products once it signs the deal.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview with the Bangkok Post, had said that India wanted to see a more ambitious approach to trade on services from the RCEP negotiations.

"We have put forward reasonable proposals in a clear manner and are engaged in negotiations with sincerity," he had said.

(With agency inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma