Fifteen Asia-Pacific countries agree on trade pact, India holds back

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Fifteen Asia-Pacific countries have concluded negotiations for a trade pact that would be among the world’s largest, but India still has “significant outstanding issues” before it is ready to sign on, the countries’ leaders said on Monday.

A summit of the leaders of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)left open the door for India to still join if it can resolve issues before the deal is set to be signed in 2020.

Fifteen of the 16 prospective RCEP states “have concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters and essentially all their market access issues,” said the leaders’ statement, which included India.

The RCEP countries include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Writing by Kay Johnson, editing by Louise Heavens