13 December 2018: A recent study by think-tank Third World Network into India’s “free” trade deals with Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has increased India’s trade deficit, reports Hindu Business Line. In other words, there are more imports to, and less exports from India.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
10 December 2018: Food and agriculture specialist Devinder Sharma warns in The Tribune last week that the Indian Government must keep agriculture out of RCEP trade deal.
Sharma warns that the RCEP deal will lead to a flood of cheaper food imports to India, and is particularly risky at a time when Indian agriculture is in crisis.
29 November 2018: The RCEP trade deal currently being negotiated between 16 countries including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the ten ASEAN south East Asian countries, covers half of the world’s population.
Delegates from public health and other community groups from RCEP countries met last week at the 4th Global People's Health Assembly in Bangladesh and produced a critical statement on the possible impacts of the RCEP on public health.
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.
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.