Media Release: 94 community organisations from Asia Pacific countries demand details of giant RCEP trade deal before signing

94 community organisations from Asia Pacific countries demand details of giant RCEP trade deal before signing

December 9, 2019

“94 organisations representing workers, farmers, women, indigenous peoples, environment, church, public health and other civil society organisations have called for the release of the text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for public and parliamentary debate and evaluation before it is signed in 2020,“ AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

A copy of the letter with organisations’ endorsements has been sent to Trade Ministers from RCEP countries and the copy to the Australian trade Minister is attached below.

Dr Ranald explained that leaders of 15 Asia-Pacific countries announced the conclusion of negotiations on November 4. The countries are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the ten ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. India has withdrawn from the agreement. However the text of the agreement was not released and will remain secret until after it is signed early in 2020.

“Governments have provided their own accounts of the claimed benefits of the agreement, but without access to the text these cannot be evaluated. Leaked documents have revealed that the RCEP could include foreign investor rights to sue governments, stronger monopolies on medicines that could delay access to cheaper medicines, deregulation of essential services and more temporary workers who are vulnerable to exploitation without any commitments to protect workers’ rights,“ said Dr Ranald.

“Failure to release the text before signing is an affront to democracy and will deepen public scepticism about claims regarding the value and positive impacts of the RCEP,” said Dr Ranald.

“There are examples of the release of texts of trade agreements before signing. Seven of governments in the RCEP released the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement prior to signing, and the draft text of the free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union was released before the negotiations entirely concluded,” said Dr Ranald.

“AFTINET has consistently called for the release of the agreed RCEP text for independent evaluation, public and parliamentary scrutiny before it is signed. This letter shows widespread support for this demand from civil society groups in RCEP countries,” said Dr Ranald.

Contact Dr Patricia Ranald 0419 695 841