With the shift in the centre of economic gravity towards Asia, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of the ASEAN+6 countries has assumed a new meaning. The new mega-groupings in the form of a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with an attempt to resurrect the APEC, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the intermittent moves to push for ASEAN+3 partnership at a faster pace through the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) Agreement, the proposed trilateral East Asian FTA among Japan, China and South Korea – all these initiatives and forums exclude India. It is, in this sense, quite crucial that a grouping like the RCEP becomes fully functional and dynamic. This paper, situates the India-Japan economic interactions, against this backdrop, and brings out important insights from the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The paper examines modalities of substantial trade coverage, sensitive lists, and formulation of rules of origin with a developmental angle in the CEPA. These could be crucial, especially in terms of providing a negotiating template for the RCEP and broader East Asian regionalism. However, it may be mentioned that India’s partnership with Japan will have to be viewed not in isolation but in the context of India-China and India-US partnerships as well.
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