External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement and will be evaluated based on "economic and trade merit", asserting that India has not closed its doors on the agreement.
"At the end of the day, RCEP is FTA. Where RCEP is concerned, we have to look at cost and benefit. We will evaluate RCEP on its economic and trade merit. We have not closed our mind to it," Jaishankar said at an event.
Giving the clarification on the decision taken by India, EAM said, "In Bangkok, the bottomline of RCEP did not match the bottomline India was looking for."
Last year, India decided not to join the RCEP agreement as its key concerns were not addressed.
The key issues behind India's decision included inadequate protection against import surge, insufficient differential with China, possible circumvention of rules of origin, keeping the base year as 2014 and no credible assurances on market access and non-tariff barriers.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member-states of ASEAN and FTA partners.
Talking about India-China relations, the minister termed the ties unique and said that both countries need to find equilibrium.
"Neither India nor China can get India-China relations wrong. Our relationship is unique. Each country has gone up in the world simultaneously. It is necessary that the two countries find equilibrium," he said. (ANI)