July 25, 2018: The US Trump administration is escalating its America First strategy of using its power as the world’s strongest economy to get more benefits for US corporations from individual trading partners, in the hope of domestic political advantage in the mid-term Congressional elections due in November 2018. But there are long-term consequences for the global economy and the global trading system.
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 16, 2018: AFTINET has previously reported on decisions in 2017 and 2018 by the European Court of Justice which found that foreign investor rights to sue governments in international tribunals (ISDS) was incompatible with national sovereignty and EU law. This means the European Parliament cannot decided to ratify agreements containing ISDS, and that each national government has to vote on ratification of agreements if they contain ISDS. These decisions followed strong European public opposition to ISDS.
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 9, 2018: Canadian union leader Lana Payne, from the manufacturing union Unifor, has blasted the Canadian government for its claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership – 11 is more “progressive” than the original TPP-12. Payne honed in on the labour chapter, which she argues is even weaker than in the original TPP-12, to make her point.
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.
July 2, 2018: Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick last Friday succeeded in obtaining the total legal costs to Australia of defending its tobacco plain packaging laws in the case brought by Philip Morris tobacco company against the Australian Government under investor-state dispute settlement provisions.
June 27, 2018: On Monday, the European Union published its “Negotiating Directives” for its proposed free trade agreement with Australia, but the Australian government hasn’t matched this level of transparency by publishing its own objectives.