Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
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.
4 May 2018: Today, several civil society groups have released a statement criticising their exclusion from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks in Singapore this week.
While Transnational Corporations and business groups have been invited to discuss their interests and concerns at the Singapore round of talks, civil society groups have been silenced. The full statement, posted on bilaterals.org, is copied below.
March 19, 2018: Jim Stanford from the Australia Institute writes in The Guardian that Trump’s unilateral and xenophobic approach to trade policy is dangerous and could lead to trade conflict. He argues we need an alternative to both Trump’s unilateralism and to corporate-dominated trade deals like the TPP.
March 8, 2018: After Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiators met in Singapore this week to continue talks, ASEAN sources have told journalists that they are working towards a ‘substantial conclusion’ in 2018.