INDIA raises demands to create world's largest trading block.

BANGKOK : plans to finalise an Asia-wide trade deal at a summit in Bangkok last weekend were uncertain after a new demands raised by India in the negotiations to create the world largest trading block.

Southeast Asian leaders meeting in Thailand hope to make progress on the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RECP] - which would comprise 16 countries that account for a third of global gross domestic market and nearly half the world's population.

Talks are expected to continue on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [Asean] summit in Bangkok after a press conference was cancelled last Friday, raising questions whether ministers could reach agreement in their last formal negotiations ahead of a summit on the regional partnership on Monday.

Host Thailand has been pushing for for a preliminary deal by the end of the year, keen to push ahead at a time when US-China tensions threaten to slow growth in the region.

A major sticking point has been demands from India, which is worried about a potential flood of Chinese imports.

''It's a fact India has put new demands which are difficult to meet,'' said a person with a knowledge about New Delhi's negotiations.

Any breakthrough on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would boost confidence in export reliant Southeast Asia that has been weighed down by US-China trade war, with growth expected to slow to its lowest in five years. [Reuters]


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