Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday indicated that India is open for negotiations if the member countries of the RCEP come up with a better offer, which can address concerns and provide greater market access for the domestic industries.
He, however, said that for now it is the final decision of the government that India will not join the China-backed mega free trade agreement - Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangkok on Monday said India will not join the RCEP deal as negotiations failed to address New Delhi's "outstanding issues and concerns".
As many as 16 countries - 10-nation bloc ASEAN and its six trading partners including India - were negotiating the mega free-trade pact RCEP.
"For the present it is the final decision, we are not joining RCEP. But if all our demands are met which will give Indian industry more scope for growth, will open better markets without adversely affecting India''s interest... I think, every government is always open for discussion and negotiations," Mr Goyal told reporters in New Delhi.
"In international engagement and relations, the doors never shut with anybody... If they make a sincere effort to resolve our concerns, to give us confidence and help us to balance this trade inequality, then I think every nation should talk to their friends," he added.
India adopted a tough stand at the RCEP on issues like balancing huge trade deficit with countries like China; a mechanism to check sudden surge in imports or dumping goods; strong norms for rules of origin, base year for reduction of duties should be 2019 instead of 2014, and unfair trade practices.
The minister said that the lesson to be learnt from these negotiations is that one should never finalise a trade agreement in a hurry and with a timeline, like it was done in 2010-11 with Japan, Korea, and ASEAN.
"Trade discussions should allow enough time and considerations, so that they are done carefully keeping the best interest of people and country," he added.
When asked whether India is a deal breaker at the last minute, he said that the country was raising these issues since 2014 and consistent on its stand to protect its national interest.