Domestic protests in India could push RCEP negotiations into 2020

October 29, 2019: Media reports are suggesting that it is unlikely that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement will be finalised this year, with negotiations likely to continue on into 2020.

Trade Ministers and Prime Ministers will meet in Bangkok this weekend to try and reach agreement on outstanding issues and it is likely that an announcement about progress of negotiations will be made at the Prime Minister’s meeting on 4 November. However, disagreement remains on key issues such as e-commerce and dairy. Reports now suggest that it is now likely that the deal will be finalised in the first half of 2020.

India’s involvement in the agreement also remains shaky, as domestic protests have extended into the Parliament. The main opposition party registered its opposition to the deal last week, “warning it would cause the “third big jolt” to the ­Indian economy after demonetisation and the introduction of a goods and services tax.” There is still speculation that India may withdraw from the agreement altogether.