More broadly, Indian protectionism has been singled out as one of the main stumbling blocks to RCEP's success.
"Just like in the World Trade Organization (WTO), India has been very recalcitrant on market access opening...India is very loathe to open its markets to anyone, even its friends and allies," said Sean King, senior vice president at Park Strategies.
Indeed, many have complained about India's restrictive trade policies, including the U.S. which has yet to ink a free-trade deal with Asia's third-largest economy.
Washington took New Delhi to the WTO dispute settlement body back in 2012 regarding a 2007 Indian import ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products, which was introduced as a means to prevent bird flu outbreaks. The WTO ruled in favor of the U.S., noting that India's policy was "discriminatory' and 'trade-restrictive."
Of course, it's not solely India weighing on RCEP talks.
"The problem with RCEP overall is that it's more countries and it's less open countries" King continued, noting that many RCEP players aren't open in the way that most TPP countries were.
Indonesia has also struggled to meet the standards of other negotiating partners when it comes to accessibility, Miller noted.
Spearheaded by China and excluding the U.S, RCEP is expected to enhance Beijing's influence among its Asian peers. The mainland is already the biggest trading partner for the bulk of Asian countries but it's gradually increasing its political and economic sway by leading projects that impact the region, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the One Belt One Road infrastructure program.
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