Environment and food production
Polluters could challenge environmental laws
The RCEP is unlikely to include any enforceable commitments by governments to international environment agreements. This is a missed opportunity to improve conservation and address climate change.
The potential inclusion of investor rights to sue governments will mean that big polluters – such as global mining companies – will have extra rights available to challenge governments for environmental protection policies or action against climate change.
The US Bilcon company won millions of dollars of compensation from Canada of because its application for a quarry development was refused by a local government for environmental reasons. The US Westmoreland coal mining company is suing the Canadian government because the state of Alberta decided to phase out coal-powerd energy.
Small-scale farmers kept from swapping seeds
TPP-like proposals in the RCEP would make it more difficult for small-scale farmers in developing countries to save and exchange seeds with each other as they have done for centuries.
The proposed rules would facilitate patenting of plants and seeds for corporations and are based on the 1991 UPOV Convention, which Australia has already signed. However, other RCEP countries have not.
Small scale farmers in developing countries do not have the same capacity as larger corporations to use the legal system to either receive intellectual property rights or defend themselves if they are accused of an infringement.
These rules would also make these farmers more vulnerable to exploitation by corporations as they often do not have the capacity to prove if a seed variety was already existing in their area.
- Why are small-scale farmers protesting the RCEP? AFTINET, March 2017
- Time for progressive fair trade policies, Dr Patricia Ranald, Sydney Morning Herald, January 2017
- What does RCEP mean for farmers’ seeds in Asia? Grain, March 2016
- TPP: This Election Could Decide If Companies Can Sue Australia Over Environmental Policy New Matilda, June 2016
For all the latest news on the RCEP, follow this link.
Updated: November 2018