India pulled out of RCEP as concerns not addressed: EAM
New Delhi: India pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) last year as joining it would have resulted in fairly negative consequences for the country's economy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.
In an address at an online discussion organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies, Jaishankar also forcefully pressed for reform of the United Nations, saying one or two countries must not be allowed to halt the process for their "perpetual gain".
On the proposed free trade agreement between India and the European Union, Jaishankar said New Delhi was looking for a "fair and balanced" pact.
Asked about the RCEP, the external affairs minister said India withdrew from it as a number of key concerns flagged by it were not addressed.
His comments came three days after 15 Asia-Pacific economies signed the RCEP agreement creating the world's largest free trade area.
"Essentially, we saw that a number of our key concerns were not addressed. We had to then take a call whether you enter a trade agreement if your major concerns are not addressed or do you take a call saying this is not in my interest," Jaishankar said during an online discussion organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies.
"We took a call that given the way it is currently, it is not in our interest to enter this agreement because it would have fairly immediate negative consequences for our own economy," he said.
The RCEP deal sealed on Sunday comprised 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of the bloc's dialogue partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
"Because you are negotiating does not mean you have to suspend your ability to calculate at the end of the negotiation. I think we made those calculations. Very frankly, what we did with regard to RCEP is not a generic position vis-a-vis trade," said Jaishankar.
India was part of the RCEP negotiations for nearly seven years. The unresolved issues included inadequate protection against import surge, lack of credible assurances to India on market access, non-tariff barriers and possible circumvention of rules of origin by certain countries.