RCEP must not be another TPP, say 316 regional civil society groups

Media Release, November 30 2016: The failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should not be used as a model for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)*, 316 civil society organisations from across the Asia Pacific have warned as the sixteenth round of negotiations begin this week in Indonesia.

In a letter to trade ministers and negotiators (below), the organisations wrote that attempts to “import TPP texts into the RCEP” should be rejected.

“It is clear that the TPP has been soundly rejected by the American people and there has also been widespread opposition to it in other TPP countries on both sides of the Pacific.

“We call upon the governments participating in the RCEP to recognize this critical moment and not to bring the toxic content of the TPP into the RCEP.”

AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said leaked documents confirm that many of the worst TPP provisions have been proposed in various RCEP chapters.

“The RCEP includes rules that give more rights to corporations at the expense of people and the planet, and restrict governments from regulating in the public interest,” said Dr Ranald.

“For example, there is a push to include TPP-like medicine monopolies which will allow pharmaceutical companies to charge higher prices for longer, threatening access to lifesaving medicines across the Asia Pacific.

“There are also proposals to give foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS), despite overwhelming opposition to this unfair system. Cases against health, environment and other public interest legislation continue to increase and even the threat of an ISDS case has been enough for governments to abandon new policies.

“Ultimately these proposals were so unpopular with the public that the TPP fell over, despite many years of painstaking negotiations.

“Our leaders must not make the same mistake again: RCEP negotiations should be open and transparent and the deal should focus on creating fairer trade rules to benefit people and the planet.

“Trying to push through TPP provisions under a different name simply will not work.”

*The RCEP includes 10 ASEAN countries plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand

Read the Civil Society Open letter to Governments in the 16 RCEP Countries here

Download the PDF here