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Jaishankar defends the government’s call to opt out of the RCEP pact | India News

NEW DELHI: A day after 15 countries signed the RCEP, without India, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar mounted a vigorous defense of the government’s decision to stay away from trade deals that could end up de-industrializing India.
Addressing the Deccan Dialogue at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Jaishankar said that the external world is not all free and fair trade, but is full of “non-tariff barriers and state capitalism.”
“The effect of previous trade agreements has been the deindustrialization of some sectors. The consequences of futures would lock us into global commitments, many of which would not benefit us. Those who argue by emphasizing openness and efficiency do not present the whole picture. ”
It was a direct hit to China, whose policies of subsidizing its state-owned companies end up with Chinese products that deeply undermine those of other countries and affect its own manufacturing capabilities. China also received additional indirect criticism. Jaishankar reminded his audience that it was India that called on China’s BRI and shaped the international discourse on connectivity projects, which must be transparent, environmentally friendly and respectful of sovereignty.
“In the name of openness, we have allowed subsidized products and unfair production advantages from abroad to prevail. And meanwhile, this was justified by the mantra of an open and globalized economy. ”
In November 2019, India refused to go ahead with RCEP because the agreement did not take into account India’s concerns. India’s decision was a difficult and deliberate decision at the highest levels of government.
India feared the deal would turn into a free trade deal with China through the back door, other countries notwithstanding, which is one reason India is currently reviewing several of its FTAs ​​in the region. Second, India requested to move the base year from 2014 to a more recent year, but that was rejected. The deal did not protect against import surges, nor did it address India’s demands on services and the movement of professionals.
Jaishankar said: “It was quite extraordinary that an economy as attractive as India allowed others to set the framework. As time went by, our situation became increasingly dire. The choice was to redouble an approach whose damaging consequences were already apparent or to have the courage to think about the problem for ourselves. We chose the latter. ”
India has adopted an “Atmanirbhar Bharat” policy to encourage self-reliance and at the same time steer clear of traditional protectionism.
Explaining the concept, Jaishankar said, “It is entering the global arena with cards to play, not just to provide a market for others. It really is about seriously building comprehensive national power. Our success in doing so will determine the future terms of engagement and our standing with the world. ”
In the post-pandemic world, this will have different implications, requiring India to act wisely and carefully.
In acknowledging it, he said: “As the world of technology applications and global production becomes more integrated, today’s options have a much deeper strategic implication. The limited progress we have made and the gap to our real potential puts us in an especially difficult position. ”

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