Trade Implications of RCEP for ASEAN and India


About the Webinar

After eight long years of negotiations, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement was signed during the 4th RCEP Summit on 15 November 2020. The RCEP Agreement, comprising signatories from the 10 ASEAN Member States, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, is the largest trade agreement in the world to-date, covering about 30% of the global GDP and a third of the world’s population. The objective of the RCEP Agreement is to establish a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership that will facilitate the expansion of regional trade and investment and contribute to global economic growth and development. The RCEP is also a signal of the region’s commitment to an open, inclusive, and rules-based multilateral trading system.

Ms. Sulaimah Mahmood, Singapore’s Chief RCEP negotiator will provide further insights into the RCEP negotiation process, the significance of RCEP for the region and Singapore, including its benefits, and the way forward after signing. It is a welcome and timely boost to the longer-term prospects of the region, even as we grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Against the backdrop of India’s withdrawal from the RCEP negotiations in 2019 leading to its absence in the agreement signatories, Dr. Pralok Gupta of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade will deliberate on the ASEAN-India trade relationship, trade implications of RCEP for India, reasons for India deciding to opt out from the RCEP, and the way forward for engagement between India and ASEAN and other RCEP partners, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19 and related developments.

About the Speaker

Ms Sulaimah Mahmood is Singapore’s Chief Negotiator for the RCEP Agreement and oversaw Singapore’s involvement in the RCEP Agreement over the eight years of negotiations. She was also Singapore’s SEOM representative on the ASEAN platform from 2006 to 2016. She has been involved extensively in ASEAN-related issues in Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) since 2004, and currently serves as Senior Director, ASEAN & South East Asia Oceania (Trade Division), MTI. Prior to her current appointment in 2017, she was Director, ASEAN Division since 2006. Throughout her extensive career, she has also been involved in the negotiations of other ASEAN and ASEAN Plus One Agreements, including the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA). Her other experience in trade policy relations include a secondment at the APEC Secretariat (1996-1998), and a posting to Brunei (1999-2000). During her career at the International Enterprise Singapore (formerly known as Singapore Trade Development Board), she was responsible for formulating and executing Singapore’s bilateral trade relations with the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand (1981-1995). Ms. Sulaimah graduated from the University of Singapore in Economics and Philosophy.

Dr Pralok Gupta is Associate Professor (Services and Investment) at the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi. He is also a Policy Leader Fellow of the European University Institute, Florence and a certified Fintech and Regulatory Innovation professional from University of Cambridge. Dr Gupta has been a member of the India’s delegation for negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and the India-EFTA agreement. He has also been appointed as Member of various task forces and committees by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Dr Gupta has been actively engaged in providing training on international trade issues to the delegates and diplomats from various countries including ASEAN. He has also been involved in providing specialised training to high level delegation from LDCs such as Ethiopia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Afghanistan and has developed specialized courses and case studies for such specialized training programs. Dr Gupta is a prolific writer and his articles on contemporary trade issues get published in international journals, books and business newspapers on a regular basis. He has recently edited a book titled ‘E-commerce in India: Economic and Legal Perspectives’. Dr Gupta has a Ph.D. in Economics and Social Sciences from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore.


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Dec 15 2020


10:00 am - 11:15 am