NEW DELHI: With trade ministers of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) nations all set to meet in Bangkok on Saturday to discuss the fine prints of a mega trade pact, auto industry lobby body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Friday said that RCEP and other free trade agreements should not result in job losses or hurt the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
"Being a part of the global trade, there are gives and takes. What we are only saying is that the government should be mindful of two things. Any such thing (RCEP and free trade agreements) should not result in job losses and hurt ‘Make in India’. No Completely Built-Up (CBU) import should be allowed (under the pact)," SIAM president Rajan Wadhera said.
The automobile industry fears that a free trade deal will result in huge dumping from China, thus impacting local manufacturing. Owing to a prolonged slowdown in demand for vehicles, lakhs of jobs have already been cut in the Indian automotive industry.
Wadhera told newspersons that completely built-up units of vehicles should be totally kept out of the RCEP purview, as otherwise India may face difficulties with cheaper vehicles being dumped here.
The RCEP bloc comprises 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six free trade agreement partners - India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
SIAM has been maintaining that free trade agreements with competing countries do not benefit Indian automobile industry.
Even competent manufacturing association, Automotive Component Manufacturers' Association of India, has said that the government must keep automobiles parts out of the proposed free trade pact. Among other things, SIAM has demanded that some 28 items, including hybrid vehicles, electric cars and three-wheelers, should be kept out of the purview of all such trade pacts that allow free entry of competing nations into Indian markets.