Piyush Goyal said India walked out of the negotiations to give primacy to the national interest

Dubai: Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal has ruled out India resuming talks to join the 'Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)', saying that the country walked out of the negotiations two years ago to give primacy to the national interest.

Mr Goyal said that some of the countries (during the RCEP negotiations) were not following the rule of law while being opaque in trade talks.

"India lost precious time because of an ill-conceived decision to start discussing and taking part in the RCEP negotiation," said Mr Goyal criticising the then Congress-led UPA government for joining the negotiations.

He said that the decision was taken 10 years ago by the then government to make India a party to the RCEP negotiations. Mr Goyal added that the NDA government "did our very best to engage with the grouping of 15 other countries".

The 15-nation RCEP is touted as the world's largest trading bloc. India joined the RCEP negotiations in 2012. In 2019, 15 nations, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand among others, signed the free trade agreement. However, India walked out of the negotiations, citing national interests.

Mr Goyal said India's dairy, agriculture, and MSME sectors would have been badly affected had the government decided to join the RCEP in 2019.

"We would have been flooded with low quality opaquely priced products against which India could never have competed. It was a very wise decision that Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to walk out of RCEP. The entire country heaved a sigh of relief," the minister said.