The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations began in 2012 between 16 countries: India China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, which represented half the world's population.
The RCEP text remained secret until after it was signed, but leaked documents during the negotiations showed that the RCEP could have included corporate rights to sue governments, stronger monopolies on medicines that would delay the availability of cheaper generic medicines, restricted regulation of essential services and allow for more temporary workers vulnerable to exploitation, without any protections for workers’ rights or the environment. We linked with similar campaigns in other countries to oppose these damaging proposals.
Campaign Achievements: India withdraws and some damaging proposals removed
In November 2019, 15 governments claimed they had completed the text of the deal, but strong community campaigns from Indian civil society forced the Indian government to withdraw, which reduced its claimed benefits for Australia and other countries. Some of the most damaging clauses like corporate rights to sue governments and stronger medicine monopolies have been removed. The negotiations were delayed by India's withdrawal and the text was signed and released on November 15, 2020.
See AFTINET's initial media release about the signing here and an explainer article about the RCEP text here
Learn more about the key issues that arose in the eight years of RCEP:negotiations
- A preliminary human rights assessment of the RCEP in Outlook, a publication of the the Australian Institute of International Affairs, November 27, 2020.
- Dr Patricia Ranald's explainer article after the RCEP text was released on November 15, 2020
- AFTINET and 93 other groups from RCEP countries call for the release of RCEP text before it is signed in 2020 (November 2019)
- Dr Patricia Ranald's The Conversation article explaining why India left the RCEP negotiations (November 2019)
- Dr Patricia Ranald's The Conversation article on reports that RCEP will not include ISDS
- Expert study condemns secrecy as RCEP talks resume in Bangkok (20 July 2018)
- Free trade or women's rights? (11 January 2018)
- Video: Dr Pat Ranald introduces the RCEP (March 2017)
- Why are small-scale farmers protesting the RCEP? (4 March 2017)
- RCEP: copyright provisions could ‘stifle creativity' (2 March 2017)
- Time for progressive fair trade policies (Dr Patricia Ranald in the Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Jan 2017)
- The hidden costs of RCEP and corporate trade deals in Asia (Report by Transnational Institute et al, 8 Dec 2016)
- MSF (Doctors without Borders) briefing on RCEP threats to affordable medicines (4 Dec 2016)
- On World AIDS Day, threat to access to medicines looms large (MSF's Shailly Gupta in the Jakarta Post, 2 Dec 2016)
- Don’t repeat the failures of the TPP in other agreements (Dr Patricia Ranald in the Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Nov 2016)
- And you thought the TPP was secret. The RCEP is even worse (The Age’s Economics Editor Peter Martin in Fairfax Media, 5 Nov 2016)
- RCEP: the trade agreement you’ve never heard of but should be concerned about (Belinda Townsend, Deborah Gleeson and Ruth Lopert, The Conversation, June 2015
- AFTINET Second Submission to DFAT on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (September 2015)
- AFTINET ubmission to the DFAT on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (April 2013