28 November 2018: Strong resistance to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) from both civil society and domestic industry in India has caused their Government to commission a study on potential gains or losses to its economy from the “free” trade deal, writes Banikinkar Pattanayak. Comprehensive studies are not frequently conducted before or after countries sign such trade agreements, so the move is welcomed by many.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
26 November 2018: Indonesian health specialist Eva Novi Karina has warned of the possible dangers to public health in Indonesia and other developing countries if the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal is signed.
15 November 2018: RCEP Ministers from 16 countries meeting in Singapore have confirmed in a statement that they will miss the deadline of finishing the agreement in 2018, and that talks will continue in 2019. The statement says that seven of twenty chapters of the agreement have been completed.
The Regional comprehensive Economic Partnership talks between China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, covering half the world’s population, began in 2012 and have missed many deadlines.
September 4, 2018: The public statement of RCEP Ministers from 16 countries following their meeting last week welcomed plans to achieve a package of certain targets in the negotiations by the end of 2018, but gave no details about what those targets were.
This is consistent with the secrecy and lack of accountability of these negotiations. The only hints of the issues were in media reports.
July 31, 2018: The twenty-third round of the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks over 10 days in Bangkok managed to resolve two more chapters, one on customs procedures and trade facilitation and one on government procurement. This means only four out of twenty chapters have be agreed, but there is still pressure to complete the deal by the end of the year.
July 23, 2018: As RCEP negotiators meet in Bangkok, Leena Manghaney from Doctors without Borders (MSF) writes in the Bangkok Post that, after six years and 23 rounds of negotiations, Japan and South Korea are still proposing stronger monopolies in addition to the standard 20 year monopoly for new medicines.
July 20, 2018: The Jakarta Post reports that an expert study by the Trans National Institute has found that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade talks between 16 Asia-Pacific countries* since 2012 have failed transparency and public participation tests. The international assessment finds there has been a failure to release draft texts, no independent social economic and environmental impact assessments and corporate interests have had privileged access to influence negotiations while members of Parliament and the public do not have such access.
July 11, 2018: As the next round of negotiations in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership gets underway in Bangkok, the main dynamic is resistance by India to tariff reduction demands by Australia and New Zealand, and to medicine monopoly demands by Japan and South Korea. The RCEP involves the 10 ASEAN countries, plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
July 3, 2018: Last Sunday, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade ministers met in Tokyo in an effort to maintain political momentum to reach an agreement by the end of 2018. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to take the initiative in the RCEP away from ASEAN as desperation deepens about the mounting trade war initiated by US President Donald Trump.