Fact Check

When Congress, the Initiators of RCEP, Protest Against RCEP

RCEP negotiations

When it comes to hypocrisy, Congress has a long list of it. It had raised its voice against GST over certain rate fixations but the States ruled by the Congress-led governments were first to oppose when the GST Council went for rate cuts. Rahul Gandhi at one point of time had protested against the Centre over petrol price hike and immediately after that the Congress-supported government in Karnataka increased tax on Petrol and Diesel. Now, under Sonia Gandhi as the interim President of the party, it added to its list of hypocrisies with the issue of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP.

Congress which itself had kickstarted the RCEP negotiations in their UPA days is now suddenly crying hoarse over the issue. According to this report, Sonia Gandhi said that the signing of RCEP will deliver a body blow to Indian economy and it will affect farmers, shopkeepers and small and medium enterprises. According to the party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, his party will carry a series of press conferences and organize protests at the district level which will culminate at the national rally in Delhi in December.

What is the Government’s Stance?

It is true that there are some apprehensions in various quarters over the RCEP and the government is actively addressing those concerns. The deal is not signed yet and India is bargaining hard to secure its interests. A statement was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office before PM Modi went to Thailand to have a meeting with ASEAN countries. It had assured,

“At the RCEP Summit, we will take stock of the progress in RCEP negotiations. We will consider all issues including whether India’s concerns and interests in trade in goods, services, and investments are being fully accommodated, during this Summit.”

In a nutshell, the negotiations for RECP was started long back, during the UPA time itself and the present government has been working hard to take it to a conclusion in which India’s interests are secured.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal has highlighted the intention and efforts by this government besides exposing the hypocrisy of Congress in his series of tweets.

Many Proofs to Congress Hypocrisy over RCEP

Here is a Lok Sabha reply dated December 2012, in which the UPA government had not only confirmed that India began its negotiation in RCEP but also detailed the ‘importance’ of the proposed deal.

The official news release by the ASEAN on November 20, 2012, had also confirmed that RCEP negotiations have been kicked-off among ASEAN members including India.

The irony is too much for comfort when the people who started the process themselves are now saying that the conclusion of this process will result in India becoming a dumping yard, farmers and traders will be adversely affected etc., Then why did the UPA start the RCEP negotiations in the first place?

In fact, Congress which is predicting all the doomsday over this deal that essentially paves way for free trade among member nations, in their time, had spearheaded many Free Trade Agreements, some of them benefiting other countries disproportionately against India.

The RCEP took shape on the basis of such Free Trade Agreements already existed among ASEAN members. Congress should answer why it did not think about farmers and shopkeepers back then if at all the concerns they are raising now have any substance.