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India against zero duty for RCEP

India is against the total elimination of duties on goods arriving from China and other members of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Instead the country is trying for moderate tariffs and feels zero tariffs can be disastrous.

But India is yet to decide on the peak level of tariffs. The peak tariff rate would indicate the floor below which import duties would not be reduced and could be subject to negotiations if other members agree to India’s proposals. Apart from China other members of the 16-member RCEP include Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Faced with several complaints from the industry on the negative fall-outs of free trade pacts signed so far with partners such as Japan, South Korea and Asean (where it has agreed to gradual tariff elimination on most products), India is coming up with a model for future trade pacts where duties would not fall below five per cent.

A submission against tariff elimination is likely to be made by India in the forthcoming inter-sessional meeting in Jakarta this month. India is uncomfortable with the pressure being exerted by RCEP members, especially China, to agree on tariff elimination on a wide range of products.