The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) hopes India will eventually join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) after delaying its decision to join the trade pact.
MITI Minister Darell Leiking said New Delhi would definitely try to iron out its differences with the 15 RCEP countries and resolve issues.
"I hope we can find (common) things, we can (even) meet and they will join the pact in due course,” he told reporters at the Su-RE Conference, organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, in Kuala Lumpur today.
"Even if they don't (be part of RCEP) they're still part of Asean in terms of dialogue. However, we do hope that they will (join) and find a reason to stay and not to opt-out.
“But as we see it, without India, the other 15 countries are committed, and we hope to execute the (RCEP) document by next year,” said Darell (photo).
According to reports, India has significant unresolved issues and its decision to join the pact depends on the resolution of these issues.
RCEP is fortified with China’s presence and also brings in the 10-member Asean members. It also has Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Participating countries of the trade pact met in Bangkok early this month during a summit of Southeast Asian leaders.
“Within Asean, if we combine the 16 economies and the 16 nations and participating partners there will be a population of more than 3.3 billion. It (RCEP) will be the biggest multilateral agreement between nations," Darell, who also spoke during the summit in Bangkok, said.
“When we're together a lot of (positive) things can happen as you will ensure your own turf will be protected. That is why the RCEP was negotiated in the first place.”
On today’s event, the Su-RE Conference aimed to boost awareness of Malaysian companies, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises on sustainability in the export business.
The conference was attended by some 500 participants from a diverse range of industries such as manufacturing, plastics, construction, food products, oil & gas, energy, and services.