Community groups say no mandate for RCEP corporate rights agenda as secret trade deal talks resume

February 19, 2019: “Secret talks for a mega-trade deal between Australia and 15 Asia-Pacific countries that will cover half the world’s population will resume this week in Bali. While global corporations dominate the agenda, civil society groups and parliaments have been marginalized. The public and parliament will not see the text until after the deal has been signed,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks include India, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, began in 2012 and are aiming to finish by the end of 2019.

“Leaked documents have revealed that the RCEP has an agenda for increasing global corporate rights at the expense of peoples’ rights,” said Dr Ranald. “With an election looming, the Australian government has no mandate for this agenda. The agenda includes:

Indonesia FTA: Labor should reject harmful clauses, says AFTINET

Media Release March 4, 2019 ; “The Indonesia FTA has been signed without any public scrutiny of the text and without any independent assessment of its overall costs and benefits,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

“As usual, before signing the agreement the government has released only a summary of positive news about market access benefits for Australian industries without the detailed text, which will only be released on the DFAT website after the signing later today. The government has refused to conduct an independent assessment of the economic, social and environmental impacts of the agreement,” said Dr Ranald.

“As with all trade deals, the devil will be in the detail. We are deeply concerned that the text will contain harmful provisions including:

Media Release: Philip Morris paying only half of Australia’s costs in ISDS case is outrageous, says AFTINET

Friday March 22, 2019: “It has taken a second FOI case and another two years to reveal that Australian taxpayers were only awarded half of the costs of defending Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws against tobacco giant Philip Morris in March 2017. This shows yet again the unacceptable secrecy and lack of public accountability surrounding the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in some trade agreements which allow foreign investors to sue governments over public health and other national laws,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today .

Media Release: Hong Kong FTA would still allow foreign investors to sue our government, says AFTINET

Tuesday, March 26, 2019: “The Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and separate Investment Agreement signed today still give special rights to foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars in international tribunals if they can argue that a change in law or policy would harm their investment, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

“The investment agreement replaces the notorious 1993 Hong Kong investment agreement which the Philip Morris tobacco company used to claim hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for Australia’s tobacco plain packaging law,” said Dr Ranald.

Media Release: Government concealed failure to cancel the old, worse version of ISDS in new Indonesia trade deal

April 11, 2019: “Detailed scrutiny of the text of the recent Indonesia trade deal has revealed that there are no provisions to cancel the old 1993 Indonesia-Australia bilateral investment agreement, which will remain in force along side the new agreement. The government summary of the new deal is misleading, because it does not mention this fact, but claims credit for more public interest safeguards in the new agreement,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

Media Release: Community groups representing millions condemn secrecy and negative proposals at RCEP trade talks in Melbourne

June 27, 2019: Community groups representing millions condemn secrecy and negative proposals at RCEP trade talks in Melbourne
 
Negotiators from 16 countries in the giant Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal will meet behind closed doors in Melbourne from June 28 to July 3.The talks include China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, representing half of the world’s population and 30%of global GDP.
 
“Fifty-two diverse community organisations, representing millions of Australians, have written to the Trade Minister demanding the release of negotiating texts and asking the government to oppose clauses that would give greater rights to global corporations at the expense of peoples’ rights,” Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convener said today.
 

Media Release: Melbourne public forum on the RCEP: Speakers say secret trade deal threatens democracy, human rights and the environment

July 1, 2019, Media Release:The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations between 16 countries continue in Melbourne behind closed doors. The talks include China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN countries, representing half of the world’s population and 30% of global GDP.

But community groups argue that the RCEP promotes corporate rights at the expense of people and the environment. The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) and other organisations* are hosting a Public Forum to discuss the social and environmental risks of the RCEP trade deal today at 6:30-8:30pm at Trades Hall, 54 Victoria Street, Carlton.

Media Release: Community groups urge Labor and cross-bench to oppose Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru trade deals

Community groups representing millions say trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru put corporate rights before people and environment and urge Labor and cross-bench to oppose them

“National organisations representing unions, church, aid and development, environment and public health constituencies have written to Labor and cross-bench MPs asking them to oppose implementing legislation for trade deals with Peru, Indonesia and Hong Kong,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today

The organisations include the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, ActionAid Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth Australia and the Public Health Association of Australia.

Media Release: AFTINET fears that assurances sought by Labor will not prevent harmful impacts from Indonesia and other trade deals

October 17, 2019: Media Release “Labor has decided to approve the enabling legislation for the Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru agreements despite the fact that they contain damaging provisions that are contrary Labor policies, in return for some fairly weak assurances from the government that may not be delivered,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

Media Release: AFTINET trade policy election scorecard: Liberal-National zero stars, Labor eight stars, Greens and Centre Alliance nine stars

April 17, 2019: AFTINET trade policy election scorecard: Liberal-National zero stars, Labor eight stars, Greens and Centre Alliance nine stars

“The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network of 60 community organisations has analysed policy documents, public statements and past records of the main parliamentary parties to compare their trade policies on nine key issues in trade deals. These include foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) stronger medicine monopolies and higher prices for medicines, labour rights and environmental standards, and the public release of trade deals before they are signed. The Liberal-National Coalition scores zero stars, Labor eight stars and the Greens and Centre Alliance nine stars,“ AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today. The issues are summarised and explained below.

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