Breakthroughs in Asia trade talks: China

Asean leaders pose with t-shirts at a signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between Asean and FIFA in Bangkok

World’s biggest trade deal to be delayed to 2020 —ASEAN

India had been pushing to build safeguards into the pact to prevent a sudden surge in imports, but inadequate protection was among the key issues that persuaded New Delhi not to sign the pact, government sources said.

In a joint leaders' statement put out on Monday evening, all 16 nations noted that while 15 of the participating countries had "concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters", India had "significant outstanding issues".

In a tweet, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Modi and Abe prepared the ground for India-Japan two-plus-two dialogue and the annual summit in their "good discussion".

Two of India's proposals to shift the base year for tariff cuts to 2019 from 2014 and widening the scope of auto-trigger mechanism to check sudden surge in imports have been hard to accommodate by other RCEP members.

The envisioned bloc includes the 10 ASEAN members plus China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.

"We need to protect the free-trade order... and bring the global economy back on track", said South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

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Under the new FTA, China would open up 90 percent of its market for Pakistani goods whereas Pakistan would share 65pc of its market with Chinese exports. Nevertheless, after Donald Trump took over the US Federal authorities in 2016, the US itself withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The 10-member bloc has chose to downgrade part of its representation for the ASEAN-U.S. summit in response to Trump's decision to skip the event.

Speaking at an Asean-US summit in Bangkok, the US national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said China's sweeping exclusive claims in the South China Sea - already rejected by the court of arbitration - were illegitimate and a form of realist imperialism.

"I was treated generously", he told reporters.

O'Brien delivered an invitation from Trump to the ASEAN leaders to a special summit at some point in the first quarter of 2020.

The meeting with the USA, which takes place on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, normally draws presidents and prime ministers.

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"Amid the current global trade environment, I believe that successful conclusion of RCEP will greatly contribute to stable and sustainable regional economic development", he said.

"India remains committed to a comprehensive and balanced outcome from the ongoing RCEP negotiations".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being forced to balance opposition at home, even from some of his own ministers, with not wanting to be left out of what could become the world's largest trade grouping.

An Indian delegation led by Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal indulged in last-minute conversations this weekend.

China's deputy foreign minister Le Yucheng echoed the view.

After meeting with leaders, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing was ready to work with countries in the region to ensure long term peace and stability. "Ultimately, it was a political decision", said a diplomatic source.

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The report mentioned that the United States is strengthening and deepening partnerships with countries that share its values."Our strategic partnership with India, a fellow democracy of 1.3 billion people that shares our vision for the Indo-Pacific, is reaching new heights", it said.

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