New explainer: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: the TPP by another name?

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a dangerous trade agreement that the Australian government is currently negotiating with 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The RCEP is one of a new set of trade agreements that aim to expand the power of global corporations and lock-in neoliberal economic policies. It includes many of the same provisions as the the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership and negotiations are even more secretive. If agreed the deal would cover half the wold’s population and 30 per cent of global GDP and would pose a serious threat to democracy, restrict government’s regulatory power and undermine human rights, labour rights and the environment in Australia and across the region.

AFTINET is calling on the Australian government to ensure that the RCEP:

  • Is transparent and democratic: the government must commit to publishing negotiating texts throughout RCEP negotiations and Parliament and the public must be given the opportunity to review and provide feedback on these texts. The final text of the agreement must be released for independent assessment, including assessment of human rights and environmental impacts and the full RCEP agreement should be put to a vote in Parliament not just the implementing legislation.
  • Excludes investor-state dispute settlement provisions: trade and investment agreements should not give special privileges to global corporations that enable them to sue governments for policy decisions that undermine their profits. The government must commit to excluding ISDS from the RCEP agreement.
  • Does not restrict access to medicines: the government must oppose provisions that extend monopoly rights for pharmaceutical companies, which result in higher prices for medicines and would delay the availability of cheaper versions of those medicines.
  • Protects essential services: the government must oppose provisions that could open up essential services to privatisation and that prevent future government from implementing new regulation.
  • Protects workers’ rights: the government must support the inclusion of fully enforceable labour rights in line with its obligations under the International Labour Organisation standards. The government should oppose the inclusion of provisions on the temporary movement of people that could increase the number of migrant workers at risk of exploitation.
  • Is environmentally sustainable and enables climate action: the government should ensure the RCEP includes enforceable environmental standards and that provisions that restrict action to address climate change and other environmental issues are removed from the agreement.
  • Preserves the power to regulate: the RCEP should not prevent future governments from implementing strong industry policies, regulating in the public interest and implementing more equitable economic policies.

Read our new explainer for more information!