January 9, 2018: A working group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) recently held talks to discuss current concerns about the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) scheme, and possible reforms. UNICTRAL is one of the two bodies which provides panels of investment law arbitrators for ISDS disputes.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
November 17, 2017: After five years and 20 rounds of negotiations, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will continue into 2018. This means that they have missed a deadline for the third time. The Leaders' statement lists 18 chapters for continued talks.
Indonesian Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita has asked negotiating countries to be ‘more realistic and flexible’ about their standards. He also has referred to the RCEP as ‘the only game in town’, an apparent reference to the uncertain future of the TPP-11. Other reports say the new target for completion is November 2018.
October 26, 2017: MSF (Doctors without Borders) has called for India and other countries to block RCEP proposals from Japan and South Korea that would allow pharmaceutical companies to have stronger monopolies, prevent competition and keep medicine prices high. They added that it was time to end the push for ever-higher levels of monopoly control of medicines through free trade agreements .
October 25, 2017: IBON International has released a powerful new video, ‘Trade for the People,’ which looks at how the neoliberal trade regime has delivered for transnational corporations at the expense of the global South.
October 18, 2017: Sam Cossar-Gilbert from Friends of the Earth International has written an article in The Diplomat on ‘5 Hidden Costs of the RCEP to People and the Planet’, using information from The hidden costs of RCEP and corporate trade deals in Asia published last year.
October 17, 2017: The Finance Secretary of the Philippines, Carlos Dominguez, has stated that the Philippines will not join the TPP without the US. The US withdrew from the TPP agreement on January 24, 2017. Manila Bulletin reports that Mr Dominguez recently told a leaders' forum in Washington DC, “Without the US I don’t think it’s going to be too hot… Without the US, it doesn’t make sense.”
September 12, 2017: RCEP Ministers met last week in Manila to assess progress in the negotiations. Filipino community groups met with negotiators and organised forums and protests.
Civil society groups including People Over Profit, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and Ibon Foundation met with Philippine trade officials on September 4 to express their strong opposition to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ahead of the 5th ministerial talks in Manila on September 10.
This forum will examine how trade agreements like TiSA, the TPP and the RCEP promote deregulation, commercialisation and privatisation of services ranging from health, education and childcare, aged care and disability care to public transport, energy and water. It will also discuss strategies to defeat them.