Asia Trade Bloc Seeks Ways to Include India, Says New Zealand Official

Asia Trade Bloc Seeks Ways to Include India, Says New Zealand Official

Bloomberg  | Jun 04, 2020 10:18

Asia Trade Bloc Seeks Ways to Include India, Says New Zealand Official

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand and its partners in a proposed Asia trade bloc continue to seek ways to bring India into the group, arguing that it will have a key role as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupts global trade.

The bloc comprising 15 nations -- Asean countries, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and China -- has been negotiating for several years to form the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, but in November India opted out of the talks. Last month the group wrote a letter seeking India’s return and expressed a willingness to discuss some of its demands.

“What we are trying to do along with other RCEP colleagues is to try to find a way for there to be an on-ramp that allows India an accelerated way back into the agreement,” Vangelis Vitalis, deputy secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told a parliamentary select committee Thursday in Wellington. “It would be even more important for India to be part of the agreement in the post-Covid space as we see some of the challenges starting to emerge around the region.”

The bloc, which makes up 30% of global trade and 58% of New Zealand exports, hopes to sign the RCEP agreement by the end of the year, he said.

“The message from India has not been very encouraging but from a New Zealand perspective we would like to find a way for India to be a participant,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

© Bloomberg. A truck transports shipping containers from the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, operated by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, on Monday, March 30, 2020. As billions of people stay home in the the world's major economic centers, consumption of everything from transport fuel to petrochemical feedstocks is in freefall. Refiners that have already been filling up their storage tanks with unsold products now have little choice but to partially shut down their plants. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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