RCEP Sans India May Not Achieve Full Economic Potential in Indo-Pacific Region: Japan
PM Modi at RCEP Summit | File Image | (Photo Credits: AFP)

New Delhi, December 2: The Regional Cooperative Economic Partnership (RCEP) sans India will not be able to achieve its intended goals in Indo-Pacific region, believes Japan who is a signatory to the pact. The country said it is using diplomatic channels to appeal the Indian government to reconsider their decision of not joining the trade pact. Modi Government Opts Out of RCEP Trade Deal, Says 'Can't Compromise on Core Interests'.

The importance of including India in the RCEP was highlighted by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, while addressing the gathering at Tokyo Global Dialogue on Monday. Motegi claimed that the multilateral body is striving for the inclusion of all 16 members including India.

"Diplomatic efforts" are underway to convince India to shun away its apprehensions and join the grouping, the top Japanese Minister said. He, however, added that it is not certain to tell for now whether New Delhi would change its decision.

Motegi was in India last week along with Japan Defence Minister Taro Kono. The two leaders met their Indian counterparts S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh and held a dialogue under the "2+2 framework". RCEP had featured in the discussions held between two sides.

According to Motegi, the RCEP will be a body of strength only if India, "the world's most populous democracy", becomes a signatory to the pact. He added that it is the "firm conviction" of Japan that the pact could boost the region's economic partnership "only with the participation of India".

The RCEP proposes to bring down import duties to zero for 90 percent of the products among member countries. Among those who have signed the pact include the 10 nations of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), along with Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and New Zealand.

India, which was the 16th member, chose not to ink the deal after apprehensions were raised by the Opposition, farmer bodies, trade unions and India Inc -- the conglomerate of Indian corporates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the RCEP summit in Bangkok, said "neither his conscience nor the talisman of Mahatma Gandhi" allows him to sign the pact.