India is one of the "most open" economies: Suresh Prabhu
(Sourced from PTI)
India is a "very open economy" and wants to have trade relations and pacts with all countries, said Union Minister Suresh Prabhu, ahead of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) meeting, in Singapore. Prabhu made a fervent pitch for having a more dynamic, global trading-system, saying India is working with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the RCEP--a mega free-trade agreement.
"India is a very open economy. We want to have trade relationships and trade pacts as continuing as possible, particularly with ASEAN, with which we already have a pact," said Commerce and Industry Minister Prabhu said in the "India's Economic Reforms and Global Integration" lecture.
The Indian economy, he said, is one of the "most open economies" with a liberal Foreign Direct Investment in all sectors, including defense. "We are also working along with the ASEAN and other neighbors on RCEP," Prabhu said. He added, "Our idea is to get into bilateral and multilateral pacts, as many as possible, to ensure that many countries benefit and we also benefit."
Prabhu said that bilateral and multilateral trade agreements are "very difficult negotiations," but India is "always ready to be involved and is very positive". "On a multi-lateral (level), we are very keen (that) we must have a global trading system which would be on a more dynamic way," he said, citing the success of the World Trade Organization in managing global trade affairs.
Prabhu said, "We want to find...a solution but as you can always understand that domestic interest is always reflected into the talks as it is with all countries including Singapore, ASEAN, and RCEP (member countries) who would like to protect (their interests) and India would also like to (do the same)." "We are finding a way, whereby we can work together," he added.
RCEP Ministers are in Singapore for a "closed-door" meeting. RCEP envisages regional economic integration, leading to the creation of the largest regional trading bloc in the world. It is currently being negotiated between ASEAN member states -- Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Singapore is hosting ASEAN Economic Ministers' (AEM) Retreat, AEM-European Union Trade Commissioner Consultations, and Inter-sessional Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Ministerial Meeting from 1-3 Mar'18. RCEP participating countries will discuss ways to progress their negotiations at Inter-sessional RCEP Ministerial Meeting. Prabhu will also meet Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.