Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

The RCEP fails the human rights test

The  Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations began in 2012 between 16 countries: India China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, which represented half the world's population. 

The RCEP text remained secret until after it was signed, but leaked documents during the negotiations showed that the RCEP could have included corporate rights to sue governments, stronger monopolies on medicines that would delay the availability of cheaper generic medicines, restricted regulation of essential services and allow for more temporary workers vulnerable to exploitation, without any protections for workers’ rights or the environment. We linked with similar campaigns in other countries to oppose these damaging proposals. 

Campaign Achievements: India withdraws and some damaging proposals removed 

In November 2019, 15 governments claimed they had completed the text of the deal, but strong community campaigns from Indian civil society forced the Indian government to withdraw, which reduced its claimed benefits for Australia and other countries. Some of the most damaging clauses like corporate rights to sue governments and stronger medicine monopolies  have been removed.

But the RCEP still fails the human rights test

The text was signed and released on November 15, 2020. Despite gross violation of human rights in Myanmar, China and the Philippines, the RECP  has no commitments to human rights, labour rights or environmental standards, could restrict government regulation of essential services like aged care and restrict government  action for local industry development for economic recovery, There has been no independent study of is costs and benefits, and even the Morrison government doesn't claim that it provides extra markets for Australian exporters.

The RCEP is being reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties which will report in August 2021 before parliament votes on the enabling legislation.

See a short  explainer article about the RCEP text here and AFTINET's submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties here

 

RCEP JSCOT inquiry announced: submissions by April 16, implementing legislation after August

March 19, 2021: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) between Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and the 10 ASEAN countries was tabled in parliament on March 18.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has called for submissions by 16 April 2021, and is expected to hold public hearings in April-May.

RCEP impact on Developing Countries – regional webinar

November 18, 2020: Just a few days prior to the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), economic experts, business owners, civil society organisations and parliamentarians expressed their concerns about its impact on developing countries in a regional webinar.

The webinar was organised by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD), Public Services International (PSI), and Indonesia for Global Justice (IDJ).

RCEP text explained

November 17, 2020: Dr Patricia Ranald's explainer article on the RCEP text has been published in The Conversation here.  The article notes that  RCEP rules could impede local industry development needed to recover from the COVID- 19 crisis, that it will restrict government regulation of essential services and that the RCEP has no commitment to labour rights and environmental standards.

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