World’s largest trading bloc in doubt after India demands

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Photo: Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters

The creation of the world’s largest trading bloc is uncertain after new demands was raised by India in negotiations at a summit in Bangkok this weekend.

Southeast Asian leaders looks forward to make progress on the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes 16 countries that account for a third of global domestic gross product and nearly half the world’s population. After a press conference was cancelled on Friday, talks are expected to continue on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. 

The host, Thailand, has been pushing for a deal by the end of the year, as they urge countries to be secured before US- China tensions affect the growth in the region.

“Opening the vast Indian market must be matched by openings in some areas where our businesses can also benefit,” Indian President Narendra Modi stated, but the President also said that he is committed to the ongoing RCEP negotiations.

“It’s a fact India has put new demands which are difficult to meet,” according to a person with knowledge about New Delhi’s negotiations.

Another source said that Thai commerce minister cancelled the press briefing in order to continue the marathon negotiations on Friday.