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India to hold bilateral discussions with China for RCEP

Facing pressure to finalise its market opening commitments under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, India will hold intense bilateral discussions with China on the sidelines of the ongoing round in Bali to narrow differences on import duty cuts and the implementation period that both seek under the trade pact.

RCEP, being negotiated between India, China, the 10-member ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, can potentially result in the largest free trade bloc in the world covering about 3.5 billion people and 30 per cent of the world’s GDP. Apart from goods, the areas being negotiated include services, investments, intellectual property and government procurement. India has been holding discussions with China since January to come to an understanding on the level of import duty cuts it can promise but differences remain. New Delhi has tried to argue that it will not be possible for it to offer tariff elimination on more that 72 per cent of the traded items as apart from agriculture there were a lot of sensitive industrial goods that needed some protection.