Congress says RCEP trade deal will jolt economy again

Party plans agitation against signing pact

October 25, 2019 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A.K. Antony. File

A.K. Antony. File

Opposing the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Congress on Friday said it will further open up the Indian markets to Chinese imports and described it as the “third big jolt” to the Indian economy after demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST).

A day after its better than expected performance in Haryana and Maharashtra, the party also decided to organise agitation and awareness programmes against the RCEP and forge a common platform with other Opposition parties.

This Congress position on the proposed trade agreement among 16 countries including China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the ASEAN countries came after a meeting of the leaders who are part of the Congress policy group.

The meeting that took place at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence also discussed other issues like the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB), the winter session of Parliament and the Assembly poll results.

Sources said the Congress decided to strongly oppose the CAB when it comes in Parliament during the winter session.

But the meeting mainly focussed on the impact of signing the RCEP, especially on farmers and Indian enterprises.

“After demonetisation and GST, it will be the third big jolt to our economy when the Prime Minister goes to Bangkok next month and expresses India’s agreement with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, while addressing a press conference jointly with A K Antony, Randeep Surjewala and K C Venugopal.

“There is a text to RCEP and a context to RCEP. The text to RCEP is bad, the concept is worst,” he added.

In the backdrop of an economic slowdown, Congress leaders argued, easier imports from countries such as China, New Zealand, Australia would further adversely impact some key sectors like agriculture, dairy farming, steel industry, textile industry and the auto industry.

Mr. Ramesh claimed that the managing director of the Gujarat-based milk federation, Amul, has written to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal expressing concern about import liberalisation of dairy products.

“Don’t worry about Rahul Gandhi. He will come back with more strength,” said Mr. Antony when asked why Mr. Gandhi had not commented on Congress’ performance in the Assembly polls and added,“Sonia ji is our supreme leader. She is the Congress president and she will continue as long as the party wishes”.

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