Japan indicates efforts on to address India's concerns over RCEP

New Delhi, Dec 1 (PTI) Japan on Sunday gave clear indications that efforts were on to make India join the ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying all member countries of the grouping were committed to address New Delhi's concerns.

After years of negotiations, India last month pulled out of the proposed RCEP over unresolved 'core concerns' at a summit meeting of the participating countries, saying the proposed pact in its current form would have adverse impact on lives and livelihoods of all Indians.

A spokesperson of the Japanese government said Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained India's position on the RCEP during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Taro Kono on Saturday.

In the meeting, the Japanese ministers explained Tokyo's views on the matter, Deputy Press Secretary in Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Atsushi Kaifu told reporters while referring to a statement issued by RCEP countries in Bangkok on November 4.

The two Japanese ministers were here to attend the first edition of Indo-Japan defence and foreign ministerial dialogue.

When asked whether efforts are on to address India's concerns and whether Japan was hopeful of New Delhi joining the grouping, Kaifu said the RCEP statement mentioned that all negotiating countries will work together to resolve outstanding issues.

'It was mentioned that efforts will be made to address India's concerns,' he said when asked whether back-channel talks are on to convince New Delhi to join the RCEP.

The negotiations for the proposed free-trade agreement included 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and six of the bloc's dialogue partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

In their statement, 15 RCEP participating countries said that they concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters and that the deal could be signed early next year.

In the RCEP summit in Bangkok, Modi conveyed India's decision not to join the RCEP deal at a summit meeting of the 16-nation bloc, effectively wrecking its aim to create the world's largest free trade area having half of the world's population. PTI MPB RT