India should join RCEP, do more in Pacific Islands: New Zealand Dy PM

India should join RCEP, do more in Pacific Islands: New Zealand Dy PM

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters at the ICWA Sapru House Lecture. Flanked by DG ICWA T C A Raghavan (extreme right) and Ambassador Anil Wadhwa (left). Photo: KV Prasad

K V Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26

Making a case for India stepping up its engagement in the Pacific Islands and advocating New Delhi’s presence in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on its own terms, New Zealand on Wednesday underscored it wants the country to be full participant in the economic arrangement.

That India walked away from RCEP a few months ago remains a topic for discussion and the visiting Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Winston Peters emphasised today there is a lot his country can do in the agriculture sector without hurting the Indian farmers at all.

New Zealand is of the view that India not being part of the RCEP was neither in its economic or strategic interest. The visiting dignitary said this delivering the 32nd Sapru House Lecture on ‘The Indo-Pacific – From Principles to Partnership’ organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs here.

Stating that New Zealand played a key role in formalising the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership to the benefit of its members, he said:  “We therefore also strongly encourage India to become a full participant in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. New Zealand respects India’s wish to seriously consider the terms of its engagement. But the blunt reality is that India’s absence from the region’s economic architecture is in neither our economic nor our strategic interests.”

Responding to a question on how the farmers in India have nothing to lose when there were protests from domestic dairy farmers concerned that post-RCEP they would face cheap imports from New Zealand, Peters who is  he said in his talks with Indian counterparts effort would be convince to allow marketing of their product and help the Indian sector.

Lauding India’s leadership role in signing the Paris Agreement, commitment towards renewable energy and solar power generation in the Pacific region and PM Narendra Modi’s interaction with Pacific leaders, he said: “That contribution underlines the leadership role India can play across the region. New Zealand wants to see India take a greater role in international political structures that support global security and regional economic governance.”

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