New Delhi, November 16, 2020 (PPI-OT): India has been embarrassed by 10 Southeast Asian states (ASEAN) after they entered into a free trade deal with China and four other countries leaving New Delhi red faced. The impact of not signing the Regional Economic Cooperation Partnership (RCEP) has hung heavy and the Indian side tried to save its face by suggesting that ASEAN has kept a window open for negotiations. However, a statement by The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) turned down India’s suggestion to start talks right away.
It is worth mentioning here that Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar participated for India at the East Asia Summit, the main ASEAN event where it coordinates policy with six regional partners and two extra-regional players, the US and Russia. Jaishankar sounded the alarm about, what he termed, Chinese expansionism a day before the 10-nation ASEAN signed a free trade pact with China and four other countries minus India.
The East Asia summit consists of 10 ASEAN plus eight countries in three rungs – China, Japan and South Korea; India, New Zealand and Australia; and the US and Russia. The RCEP was signed on Sunday by all regional players minus India. The US and Russia were not invited. The pact will create Asia’s largest free trade zone and will be Japan’s first FTA framework with China.
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