Washington: A top India-centric American business advocacy group has suggested Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to lower tariff in the Union Budget if the country wants to compete with China-backed mega free trade agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
China and 14 other countries in November last year established the world’s largest trading bloc that represents roughly 30 per cent of the world’s GDP and population. India walked out of the mega free trade agreement as negotiations failed to address New Delhi’s outstanding issues and concerns.
The members of RCEP are 10-nation bloc ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
“If India can focus on a much more predictable environment from a policy framework it will give more confidence to the investors. Bringing a sense of transparency in policy making also sends a very positive signal. And if India is going to be competing, especially with the RCEP, then it has to look at lowering its tariff,” Mukesh Aghi, president of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) told PTI.
Pointing that in the last 12 months tariffs in India have been going up and up, he said, “What it does is yes, it protects a local industry, but it doesn’t make them competitive. So, it is important to protect the local industry, but at the same time, it is important to make them more competent intervals.
Lowering of tariff is important.” In a recent submission to the Union Finance Minister, USISPF recommended specific measures to improve direct and indirect tax collection, which will promote private investment and ensure fiscal and monetary stability.