Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP): Implications for India and Partner Countries

Debashis Chakraborty, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Kolkata*

A version of this article was originally published in Chinese as ‘印度谨慎推进RCEP的理由’ [Yindu jinshen tuijin RCEP de liyou], Diyi Caijing, 27 August 2017. This is part of a series by Indian scholars in China’s top business affairs news portal facilitated by the ICS. The English version follows the Chinese text.

从1991年开始采取外向型发展模式以来,印度始终稳健地推行着自由化进程,以此促进外商直接投资 (FDI)的流入和出口。直到2003年,印度还主要依赖由世贸组织(WTO)主导的旨在促进出口的多边贸易改革,此后的一段时间,印度开始参与一系列的区域贸易协定(Regional Trade Agreements ,RTAs)。

印度最早在2005年和新加坡达成了双边综合经济合作协定(CECA),此后又陆续在2006年达成了南亚自由贸易协定(South Asian Free Trade Area , SAFTA),在2010年在商品贸易方面和东盟达成了自由贸易协定(FTA),与韩国达成了双边综合经济伙伴协定(CEPA),并在2011年分别与日本和马来西亚达成了双边综合经济伙伴协定(CEPA)以及双边综合经济合作协定(CECA)。印度还参与了多项区域贸易协定谈判,例如,与欧盟的双边贸易投资协定(BTIA)、印度加拿大经济伙伴协定。然而,现如今,印度正处在关于亚洲泛区域性协定——区域全面经济伙伴关系协定(Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ,RCEP)的十字路口上。 Continue reading “Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP): Implications for India and Partner Countries”

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A China Gazer’s Random Musings – No. 1

Amb. Kishan S. Rana (retd), Emeritus Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi

There is such a cascade of writing on China that as an oldie, I am attracted by the notion of penning personal reactions, reflections, and observations. Few of us can claim special insights into a country marked by both opacity and paradox. The longer one studies China, deeper is a typical realization that what one understands is a fraction of the things that remain unknown, even unfathomable. I plan to write this column perhaps once a month.

The 19th Party Congress Looms

For an authoritarian regime, China has a remarkable leadership transition system, which has worked smoothly for the past 30 years. Party congresses of the Communist Party of China (CPC) are held every five years. The even numbered Party Congress is when a new General Secretary and his leadership team take over; the country’s key decision-making team is the Standing Committee of the Politburo (it used to number 9, reduced to 7 in 2012). The General Secretary holds office for 10 years. The odd-numbered Congress is the one where appointments are made to the central committee and the full politburo, in preparation for the leadership change five years down the line.

Thus, the 19th CPC which meets in October 2017 is the in-between session when central committee and politburo members are appointed. It is crucial because that team plays the key role in the appointment of the next leader at the 20th Congress.

Recent months have seen sizeable re-shuffle in the top positions in the 31 provinces, Continue reading “A China Gazer’s Random Musings – No. 1”

India’s Concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Ashok K. Kantha, Director ICS and former Indian ambassador to China

It is one of the most imaginative and ambitious programmes ever to be rolled out by a government. It represents a broad strategy for China’s economic cooperation and expanded presence in Asia, Africa and Europe, and has been presented as a win-win initiative for all participating nations. But for India, the connotations of China’s Belt and Road Initiative” are somewhat different. A flagship programme and the most advanced component of the initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, a region that belongs to India and is under the control of Pakistan. As a country acutely conscious of its own sovereignty-related claims, China should have no difficulty in appreciating India’s sensitivities in this regard. Continue reading “India’s Concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

Economic Ties with China: India Needs to Look Beyond Politics

Alka Acharya, ICS Honorary Fellow and Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

There appears to be a world of difference between the images presented by India-China economic and commercial ties on the one hand and the politico-strategic on the other. Interactions and exchanges with representatives from both these domains are markedly different in tone and tenor—the former focus on the opportunities, openings, benefits and profits while the latter dwell more on the dangers, threats, challenges and disputes.

Prima facie, they appear to be working at different levels, according to their own—somewhat different—logic and rationale, and it does not look like they will converge any time soon in a more composite picture of this most critical of relationships in the world today. The political understanding at the highest level, which is committed to building a strategic and cooperative—and now more promisingly ‘developmental’—partnership, struggles with deep suspicion that runs through practically our entire strategic discourse. On the other hand, economic engagements have become the most dynamic and transformative aspects of the India-China relationship today. But this has to contend with the structural mismatch between the manufacturing strengths and industrial capacity of the two economies—and therefore, unsurprisingly, perceived by and large as a situation that works only to China’s advantage. The controversial and contentious political issues and the angry exchanges understandably garner greater attention.

Bigger Picture

And yet we must ask ourselves as to whether that is all there is to the overall picture. Continue reading “Economic Ties with China: India Needs to Look Beyond Politics”

Explaining China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Ashok K. Kantha, Director, ICS and former Indian ambassador to China

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, launched in late 2013, is the signature project of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Now re-designated as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is one of the most ambitious programmes ever rolled out by any government. The Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing on May 14-15 showcases its achievements to 28 foreign heads of state and government, as also delegations from other countries. No official participation from India has been announced so far. Backed by huge resources, BRI has acquired overarching importance in foreign policy and domestic domains of China. As it has Xi’s personal imprimatur, a wide range of ongoing projects and activities have been folded into the grand narrative of the BRI, with its contours still evolving. Continue reading “Explaining China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

Why Economic Engagement with China Matters

Ravi Bhoothalingam, Honorary Fellow, ICS

In the aftermath of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India-China bilateral relations have plumbed new depths. China accuses India of using the Dalai Lama to provoke anti- Chinese sentiment, and says that diplomatic relations are “seriously damaged”. But His Holiness is a popular and revered guest in India, and so the Indian government’s resolute defence of his right to travel anywhere in the country remains fully in harmony with popular sentiment. Still, we should expect a climate of “cold peace” between the two countries for some time to come, with bilateral political issues remaining unresolved. However, a Sinophobic public climate can damage our own public interest, and this the government should work to avoid. Because China matters to India — if not politically — certainly in the realm of economic development. And it matters in four quite specific ways. Continue reading “Why Economic Engagement with China Matters”

CPEC: Views of the Business Community in Pakistan

Jyotishman Bhagawati, Research Intern, Institute of Chinese Studies 

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has created a sense of both euphoria and scepticism in Pakistan. The euphoria is because of the size and scale of the corridor project which is expected to create 700,000 direct jobs and whose total cost, according to a Deloitte study, is estimated to touch US$75billion upon completion [1]. At the same time, there are also increasing concerns over the project primarily due to the lack of concrete details about the various schemes falling under it which the government is accused of not sharing with the public [2]. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to note the perceptions of the business community in Pakistan regarding the CPEC as it is one of the most crucial stakeholders in the project. Continue reading “CPEC: Views of the Business Community in Pakistan”