India can't keep dodging trade deals

From left: Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Singapore this week. The gulf between India and the other 15 RCEP c
From left: Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting in Singapore this week. The gulf between India and the other 15 RCEP countries remains deep, says the writer. PHOTO: REUTERS
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The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is not a "competitor" to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or, as it's now known after adding the adjectives "comprehensive" and "progressive", the CPTPP).

Yes, the CPTPP very obviously excludes China while RCEP does not. But, unlike the former, the RCEP is a more traditional sort of trade deal, in which tariff cuts on tradeable goods - rather than high standards for labour, environmental and intellectual property protections - are at the centre of the discussion. That's part of the reason India is leery of signing it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2018, with the headline India can't keep dodging trade deals. Subscribe