28 November 2018: Strong resistance to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) from both civil society and domestic industry in India has caused their Government to commission a study on potential gains or losses to its economy from the “free” trade deal, writes Banikinkar Pattanayak. Comprehensive studies are not frequently conducted before or after countries sign such trade agreements, so the move is welcomed by many.
26 November 2018: Indonesian health specialist Eva Novi Karina has warned of the possible dangers to public health in Indonesia and other developing countries if the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal is signed.
22 November 2018: Investment Arbitration Reporter has reported this week that US company Westmoreland Coal has filed a claim against the Canadian Government under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), because they anticipate profit loss when the province of Alberta phases out coal generated electricity.
Media release 21 November 2018: “We are disappointed but not surprised that the majority report of the Government - dominated Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has recommended ratification of the Peru-Australia FTA,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
November 20, 2018: At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) in Port Moresby last weekend US Vice President Mike Pence justified the US tariff war on China by criticising Chinese policies on technology transfer, intellectual property and industrial subsidies, and accused China of drowning its Pacific Island aid partners in a sea of debt.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in turn urged a rules-based approach through the World Trade Organisation (WTO), said that intellectual property rules should not be as profit-making tools for a few, accused the US of protectionism and unilateralism and urged cooperation rather than confrontation.
15 November 2018: RCEP Ministers from 16 countries meeting in Singapore have confirmed in a statement that they will miss the deadline of finishing the agreement in 2018, and that talks will continue in 2019. The statement says that seven of twenty chapters of the agreement have been completed.
The Regional comprehensive Economic Partnership talks between China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, covering half the world’s population, began in 2012 and have missed many deadlines.
Media Release 8 November 2018: “AFTINET welcomes the Labor Opposition initiative to revisit the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) because it includes foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) which the Shadow Trade Minister has pledged to oppose in all trade agreements,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
7 November 2018: George Kahale III, an internationally recognised expert on ISDS, in the keynote speech to an investment arbitration conference in Prague, has described the system as a ‘weapon of legal destruction’.
5 November 2018: Chatham House has published an article by research fellow Cleo Paskal which argues that PACER Plus mainly benefits Australia and New Zealand, and could damage their relationships in the region. She says that Fiji and PNG, representing 80% of Pacific Island Countries’ combined GDP, have not joined PACER Plus because the increased imports from Australia and New Zealand may threaten their developing industries. Nine smaller Pacific Islands have been pressured to sign a deal they are reluctant to implement.