Speaking here at the World Economic Forum annual meeting 2020, the commerce and industry minister also called for greater cooperation among various nations to realise the huge growth prospects in the Indian Ocean region and also for tackling the important issue of climate change.
Goyal said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in its present form was clearly an unworkable agreement.
“Any pact needs to take into account several factors. India is grappling with a huge trade deficit, particularly with China and many other nations in the region,” he said.
For the first time, India demonstrated that trade cannot be dictated by diplomacy, Goyal said, referring to India’s decision to pull out of the RCEP.
The RCEP has had to factor in several diversities among partners, but India has serious concerns about climate change and is seeking greater cooperation on fair terms, he asserted.
Goyal was speaking at a Strategic Outlook session on ‘The Indian Ocean Rim’.
“We are like a pivot for the Indian Ocean and we believe this region has huge potential. At the same time, India is very much concerned about the issue of climate change.
“Going forward, the entire grouping around the Indian Ocean will play a very important role, while keeping in mind fair and equitable distribution. India also expects greater cooperation among various nations on climate change,” he said.
Goyal further said, “We in India are also working on how to put in place more equitable terms in our trade relations with various countries.”
On whether India can still join RCEP, Goyal said the country had said at that time too that it will not be able to join the trade deal in its current form.
If nations provide adequate transparency safeguards and if non-tariff barriers are addressed, there is always scope for a fresh dialogue, he added.
The Indian Ocean Rim sees two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments pass through its waters and is home to half of the world’s container ships that support 2.7 billion people.
The panellists discussed what are the strategic priorities for the Indian Ocean Rim in 2020, including advancing regional cooperation, strengthening the blue economy and mitigating climate change.
The panellists included Samir Saran, president, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive officer DP World Limited; Mathias Cormann, minister for finance; Leader of the Government in the Senate of Australia; and Njoki Njehu, director, Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center, Kenya.