An ideological affiliate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come out again to oppose New Delhi's decision to go ahead with the deal, despite widespread opposition in the country. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch or Forum for National Self-Reliance said any trade agreements involving China would be detrimental to the interests of Indian industry and agriculture. It said India is already facing problems due to dumping by China because of the non-tariff barriers imposed by Beijing.
"[…]RCEP would effectively function as an FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with China. The trade deficit with China is at an alarming level of USD 54 billion. It is a well-known fact that non-tariff barriers are the main cause of the denial of market access to China. There is nothing in the RCEP to effectively discipline the non- tariff barriers (such as Mutual Recognition Agreements), and its exclusive focus on tariff reduction would be bringing an end to Indian manufacturing," said Ashwini Mahajan, Chief of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch.
Mahajan said with the current crisis in both in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors in the country, which impacts employment generation, an RCEP would further deteriorate the situation.
"FTAs India has signed in the last decade, play a major role by allowing cheap imports and the hollowing out of Indian manufacturing. In 2018-19, India had a trade deficit with 11 of the 15 RCEPs negotiating countries. In the previous year, India had a USD 104 billion trade deficit with RCEP countries and more than half of this was with China," he added.
The outfit has called for a nationwide strike against New Delhi's decision to go ahead with the RCEP without adequate safeguards to protect the interests of Indian industrial and farm sectors.
The outfit's protest plan comes just ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping visit for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi would receive Xi in Mamallapuram – a UNESCO world heritage site near the southern city of Chennai on Friday (11 October). The two leaders had their inaugural Informal Summit in Wuhan, China in April last year.
"The forthcoming Chennai Informal Summit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership," said the Indian External Affairs Ministry in a statement.