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Piyush Goyal slams Sonia Gandhi over her remarks on RCEP and FTAs, reminds her of UPA’s record on the issue

According to the government, this agreement will be beneficial for India. Data provided by the government show that India's trade deficit was on a rise due to FTAs signed by previous governments.

In a series of tweets, Union Minister for Railways and Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal came down heavily upon Congress President Sonia Gandhi for her remarks against the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and China.

Sonia Gandhi had said such an agreement between the two countries would deal a body blow to the Indian economy. “We can ill-afford to become a dumping ground. India being made a dumping ground of Chinese goods is catastrophic. In the past 72 years, no country has signed FTA with China,” she had said.

Piyush Goyal questioned the UPA government for joining RCEP talks with China in 2011-12. He said that the Congress supremo has only now awakened to RCEP and FTAs. He highlighted the fact that India already has FTAs with ASEAN countries, Malayasia, South Korea and Japan.

Piyush Goyal also reminded Sonia Gandhi that the UPA government itself had explored the possibility of an FTA with China in 2007. He also slammed the erstwhile government for opening up 74% of the Indian market to a richer country like Indonesia while they had opened up only 50% of their own market to India.

Piyush Goyal also emphasized the fact that the government will make a decision based on what is best for India. He reiterated that it must be a “win-win” situation for both countries and the government will make any decision based on the interests of the Indian people.

Opposition leaders are criticising the government’s move to sign Free Trade Agreement under RCEP. The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ( Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and its six FTA partners (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

According to the government, this agreement will be beneficial for India. Data provided by the government show that India’s trade deficit was on a rise due to FTAs signed by previous governments. Officials have pointed out that India’s trade balance is turning more unfavourable for most FTAs. It has doubled since 2011 to Rs 12.86 trillion in 2018-19.

The proposed deal seeks to reverse this trend. For example, during a meeting earlier in October, India had negotiated a 10% advantage over China for tariff removal. This advantage for India will mean that its exporters can access 10% more Chinese product lines without facing tariff barriers. Union government has been assuring that the interests of the domestic industry will be given priority while negotiating the RCEP.

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