Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that sledging or verbally bullying the opposition to obtain an advantage happens not just in cricket but also in negotiations on Free Trade Agreements (FTA).

She was referring to the alleged attempts by Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership member countries to portray India as “obstructionist” in the FTA talks.

Countries such as Australia and the EU want India to eliminate tariffs even on sensitive items in agriculture (eg: wheat) and industry (automobiles) as part of the respective FTAs to gain access to India’s huge growing market. 

She further said that the delays were instead due to India’s partner countries and their ambitious offers.


Earlier Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership members asked India to either agree to eliminate tariffs on most products quickly or leave the talks on the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

They called India’s stand as obstructionist, defensive and half-hearted approach that is delaying the conclusion of the talks. 

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership:

The RCEP is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far – the other two being the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and the TTIP (Trans -Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).

The trading bloc comprising 16 Asia-Pacific countries, comprising the 10-member ASEAN bloc, and India, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand.