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India's absence looms over 'progress' on RCEP Asian trade deal

Members aim to sign pact at November summit, but New Delhi stays aloof

Economic Ministers from the 15 countries taking part in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks met online on Aug. 27. (Photo courtesy of the ASEAN Secretariat/Kusuma Pandu Wijaya)

JAKARTA -- Economic ministers from the 15 nations seeking to forge the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership met online on Thursday and reiterated that the door open for India to rejoin the nascent Asian free trade zone, as they look to revitalize economies ravaged by COVID-19.

But with member states aiming to sign a deal at a summit in November, the huge trade pact is likely to be finalized with world's third most populous country looking on from the sidelines.

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