Indian Minister absent from RCEP meeting as tariff tensions unresolved

August 1, 2019:  Business Today of India reports that India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal is not attending the RCEP ministerial meeting being held in Beijing today and tomorrow, but will be represented by a more junior official. The RCEP negotiations include China, India, Japan, South Korea, the 10 ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand.

The Minister’s absence follows a series of meetings he held with Indian industry groups who argued that the the level of tariff cuts proposed by China and others in the RCEP negotiations would damage local industries.

The Indian Ministerial absence may further delay the talks from achieving their stated aim of conclusion by the end of the year.

China and Malaysia have previously raised the threat of exclusion of India from the deal if agreement cannot be reached on tariffs and other issues.

Australian Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton said of the RCEP that “It is going to be difficult to get there, I think we do have a long way to go.”

Ministers are expected to make a statement on progress of the negotiations after August 2.