India at loggerheads with RCEP on govt procurement

July 28, 2017: According to The Hindu, India is being pressed in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks in Hyderabad to make binding commitments to open up its government procurement sector - by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and two ASEAN bloc members, Singapore and Malaysia.

The 16 nations in the RCEP talks have agreed to create a Working Group to carry forward negotiations on government procurement and to create a separate procurement chapter.

But the Indian negotiators have apparently rejected the demands for full access to government procurement in the RCEP, in line with its recent ‘Make in India’ policy decision in May 2017 to give preference in government procurement to local goods and services suppliers, and its June 2017 decision to block procurement bids from countries which block Indian bids.

India is not a signatory to the World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement.

India’s policy is consistent with the recent findings of the Australian Parliamentary Committee on Government Procurement recommendation that the Australian government should not enter into procurement commitments that undermine its ability to support local industry and jobs.