Join AFTINETIs the RCEP the TPP by another name

The RCEP could undermine post-COVID recovery, workers' rights and environment

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

Learn more:

Unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution is a humanitarian crisis and an economic loss for rich countries

January 25, 2021: The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a team of economists affiliated with Harvard University, the University of Maryland and Istanbul’s Koc University, to examine trade data across 35 industries in 65 countries, which explores the economic impacts of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The Biden Presidency trade policy: implications for Australia and the world

January 21, 2021: Incoming US President Joe Biden has immediately issued Executive Orders which reverse major Trump policies over the last four years, beginning with re-joining the World Health Organisation and plans to address deadly COVID-19 pandemic, reversing his environmental agenda including re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, cancelling his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the economy and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.

International trade agreements didn’t feature.

Crucial debate at World Trade Organisation on access to COVID-19 medicines– WHO Chief calls out “catastrophic moral failure”

January 19, 2021: The World Trade Organisation TRIPS Council is today debating again the proposal by India and South Africa, supported by 100 countries, to waive various intellectual property provisions on COVID technology. Big Pharma has defended its 20-year monopoly on new medicines and the MSF medicine access movement has rebutted their claims.

Study shows how big tech firms are boosted by trade deals and argues for democratic regulation

January 14, 2021: A new study published by Focus on the Global South maps the rapid global growth of digital technology and trade, and the Big Tech firms that are amongst the world’s largest. US firms Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook dominate global markets but are being challenged by Chinese firms like Alibaba and Tencent, resulting in a technology cold war between US and China.

Clive Palmer’s claims to be a Singaporean company and sue the Commonwealth expose the absurdity of ISDS

December 18, 2020: The Guardian reports that Clive Palmer’s Singapore-based company, established only in 2019, has acted on his threat to sue the Commonwealth Government for billions of dollars using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (SDS) clauses in the Singapore-Australia free trade agreement.

COVID-19 trade report recommends changes to local manufacturing, govt procurement and rights of international shipping crews

December 15, 2020: The Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for Australia’s foreign affairs defence and trade policies was tabled in Parliament on December 8.

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