RCEP secrecy can’t hide TPP-like proposals as Hyderabad talks finish

July 30, 2017: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks in Hyderabad, India, ended on Friday July 28 under a shroud of secrecy, but serious differences remain on medicines, copyright, e-commerce, government procurement, and investor rights to sue governments .

The Hindu reported that India was resisting proposals for a TPP-like chapter on government procurement, which has also been condemned in a press release by  the People’s forum against FTAs. The forum also condemned the inclusion of investor rights to sue governments and called for the full text to be released for public and parliamentary debate.

Last year, Knowledge Ecology International  alleged that Japan and Korea were pushing anti-consumer measures which would deepen drug monopolies. KEI believes those portions of the agreement have not been revised.

“From all the indications I have had from people who are talking to negotiators, there remain a lot of unresolved issues. Everything from research exceptions, to issues of patent extension and data exclusivity has not been resolved,” said James Packard Love of KEI. Doctors without Borders said that such proposals would delay the availability of affordable medicines, especially in the poorest countries.

Leading Indian academics, Arul George Scaria and Anubha Sinha, highlighted  proposals for stronger copyright monopolies including digital rights management, extending broadcaster copyright, much harsher copyright enforcement, and investor rights to sue governments.

Other academics have expressed concern at proposals for the e-commerce chapter which would undermine the ability of governments to regulate to ensure consumer data security and privacy. These include no restrictions on cross border data transfer and no compulsory disclosure of source codes.

The Hindu quoted Phairush Burapachaisri, Board of Trade of Thailand and Thai Chamber of Commerce, as saying, "The talks have already missed many deadlines and it looks like the negotiators won’t be able to conclude them this year".

RCEP Ministers will meet on September 5-11 in the Philippines to attempt to resolve key issues before further negotiations on 17-28 October in Inchon, South Korea.