Prof. Dr. Rajaram Panda from the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) under the Indian government made the remarks during a recent media interview held amid the ongoing 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings.
With regard to the country’s role in ASEAN and in terms of the relations between the bloc and India, Dr. Panda said the nation has been a success in taking on the role of ASEAN Chair 2020.
Most notably, the nation has effectively controlled the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in a timely manner, whilst also sharing its experiences with other countries, he said, adding that this indicates Vietnam can be a responsible member of the global political arena.
As for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Dr. Panda said it is not possible that India will change its decision to join the agreement.
Recent times have seen plenty of debates and an exchange of views among Indian analysts and policymakers about whether or not to uphold or reverse this stance, but it is unlikely that the Indian government would change its decision. This is unless issues relating to the their economic interests and the trade imbalance are solved, he noted.
Furthermore, India would also have an unfavourable trade balance in comparison to most ASEAN member states if it joins the agreement, whilst it is the responsibility of the Indian government to protect its domestic production industry, he said.
Due to these reasons, Dr. Panda said he does not see any possibility that India will decide to change its stance on the agreement during the fourth RCEP Summit, and even ahead in the future, providing that the economic benefits are not guaranteed.