Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday countered Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s remarks on the proposed mega free trade agreement RCEP, saying it was during the UPA regime when India joined negotiations for this pact.
In a series of tweets, the minister said, "Smt. Sonia Gandhi ji has suddenly woken up to RCEP and FTAs. So where was she – When FTA with ASEAN was signed in 2010? When FTA with South Korea was signed in 2010? When FTA with Malaysia was signed in 2011? When FTA with Japan was signed in 2011? "
He further said, "So where was she When her Govt. opened 74% of its market to ASEAN countries but richer countries like Indonesia opened only 50% for India? Why did she not speak against giving larger concessions to richer countries."
Where was Sonia ji when her Govt agreed to explore an India-China FTA in 2007? I hope ex PM Dr Manmohan Singh will speak up against this insult to him, Goyal said in one of the tweets.
Gandhi on Saturday launched a blistering attack on the government on the state of economy, saying signing the RCEP agreement will result in "untold hardship" for farmers, shopkeepers and small enterprises.
"As economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it is now ready to deal a body blow to it by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) – the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries," Gandhi said.
Continuing his attack on Gandhi, Goyal tweeted, "So where was she – When trade deficit with RCEP nations increased from $7 Billion in 2004 to $78 Billion in 2014? When her Govt forced India to join RCEP negotiations with China in 2011-12."
On Prime Minister expressing commitment "to a comprehensive and balanced outcome" from RCEP negotiations, the minister said, PM @narendramodi ji has highlighted that RCEP must be a win-win "We too would like a win-win outcome. We believe that for this, addressing our concerns over unsustainable trade deficits is important."
RCEP is a trade pact being negotiated amongst 16 countries.
Talks are going in Bangkok to iron out differences. The commerce minister was also there for the meeting of RCEP trade ministers.
The trade ministers meeting is precursor to the RCEP leaders’ summit, scheduled on November 4 in Bangkok, which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The exchange of words on the agreement came at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Bangkok to attend the RCEP Summit.