Opted out RCEP to protect domestic industry: BJP

Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. (PTI file photo)

In the first meeting of all its MPs after Government’s decision to walk out of China-backed mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday hailed the move as the one taken in “national interest” and drew a UPA versus NDA comparison to send out a message of Modi dispensation's concern for domestic industry.

At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, which was not attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his recent visits to various countries and his participation in UNGA and BRICS meetings were hailed as “big success”.

Drawing a UPA versus NDA narrative on the issue, Goyal said while the UPA government favoured joining the RCEP, Modi dispensation stood for the country's interest by keeping out of it.

He said that decision to opt-out of RCEP was in the national interest as joining it would have widened India's trade deficits with some countries and harmed its domestic industry.

After seven long years of negotiations, India on November 4 pulled out of the China-backed RCEP over unresolved "core concerns", stressing that the deal would hurt Indian farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in Bangkok that the proposed deal would have an adverse impact on the lives and livelihoods of all Indians.

Months before the agreement was to be signed, the protest had begun building up in the Sangh Parivar against it.

RSS affiliates Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Laghu Udyog Bharati were up in arms, especially over RCEP. SJM had in October launched a 10-day protest against RCEP.

 

With the issue raising many eyebrows in Sangh Parivar, BJP organisation general secretary BL Santosh had also held a meeting of various stakeholders on the issue of India becoming a member of RCEP last month after RSS chief Mohan speaking at the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur on Vijayadashami had pitched for Swadeshi and emphasized on expanding trade relations with the world on the basis of our strength and terms.

 

The BJP is now projecting the decision as a “big bold move” to protect national interests. 

 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaking in North East earlier said that had India joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), farmers, labourers and industries would have been adversely affected lauded the Prime Minister for deciding against it keeping in mind India's economic interests, especially those of North East

 

At a separate event, External Affairs Minister S  Jaishankar had said the decision was based on a clear-eyed calculation of the gains and costs of entering a new arrangement and that no pact was better than a bad agreement.

 

The RCEP negotiations launched by ASEAN leaders and six other countries during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in November 2012, were aimed at achieving a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement among the ASEAN member States and its FTA partners.

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