Diplomats from two RCEP member countries said there was a “very high” possibility of inking the deal at the bloc’s summit on Monday if India agrees to be part of it.
“We have put forward reasonable proposals in a clear manner and are engaged in negotiations with sincerity. We would like to see commensurate levels of ambition on services from many of our partners, even as we are ready to address their sensitivities. Overall, we are clear that a mutually beneficial RCEP, in which all sides gain reasonably, is in interests of India and of all partners in the negotiation,” Modi said.
The RCEP negotiations were launched by ASEAN leaders and the six other countries during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in Cambodia in November 2012.
The objective of launching RCEP negotiations was to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement among the ASEAN member States and its FTA partners. On India’s ties with ASEAN, Modi said engagement with the bloc has been, and will remain, a critical element of New Delhi’s Act East policy and strategy.
The prime minister also complimented the ASEAN for its outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which, he said, has significant convergence with India’s Indo-Pacific vision. “Maritime security, connectivity, economic growth and sustainable development are priority areas both in our and Asean’s approaches to build a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. We will be glad to work with our partners in Asean to progress partnership in achieving these objectives,” Modi said.
Modi also said that India attaches great importance to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). “It constitutes a unique link between South Asia and Southeast Asia with five members from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two from Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand),” he added.