India should join larger regional trade blocks: World Bank

New Delhi :India should join larger trade blocks like Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as it would be good for the nation, World Bank today said.

“There is lots of controversy on issues related to global free trade and regional trade pacts. On balance, I think it would be better for India to join regional trade pacts like RCEP. Joining something bigger is always good choice to make,” the multilateral agency’s Country Director in India Onno Ruhl said.

Ruhl was replying to a query whether India should join regional trade pacts or not during the launch of World Bank’s latest India Development Update.

The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six free trade agreement partners—India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh in November 2012. The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world’s economy, estimated to be more than USD 75 trillion.

It is under negotiations and is an extremely important institutional process which will have significant implications for India and other partners.

Ruhl further said that World Bank is likely to invest around USD 5 billion in India to support its development objective.

On government’s Skill India programme, the World Bank’s Country Director in India said, “Skilling India starts with nutrition for children under age 2 and then goes to quality of primary education and then it goes to enrolment in secondary education and then it goes to enrolment in higher education and then it goes to connecting skills to connecting skills to private sector. Not just 6 months training.”