RCEP

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a so-called mega-regional economic agreement being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) governments and their six FTA partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The RCEP agreement is largely driven by ASEAN. Indeed, the RCEP originated in, and expands upon, the stitching together of five existing ASEAN+1 agreements, that brought ASEAN together with Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. The stated goal of the negotiations is to “boost economic growth and equitable economic development, advance economic cooperation and broaden and deepen integration in the region through the RCEP,” according to the ASEAN website. From what is known of the agreement’s contents, the proposed RCEP would cover almost every aspect of economy such as goods, services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property rights (IPR), rules of origin and competition and dispute settlement.

The ninth negotiating round took place in Nay Pyi Taw, Burma, in August 2015. An earlier intention of concluding the talks by the end of 2015 has now been overtaken by a vaguer deadline.

Concerns about the RCEP have been voiced in a number of contexts and cover a range of issues. As with many negotiations, they have been conducted with a high degree of secrecy. A 2015 leaked text on intellectual property rights (IPR) proposed by Japan’s negotiators (and apparently supported by South Korea) confirms the concern that the proposed RCEP IPR provisions resemble the TRIPs-plus provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Patient groups including the Delhi Network of Positive People and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition-South Asia have held rallies outside the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi to protest the risks that the RCEP poses to access to medicines.

The leaks also show that Japan and South Korea want to get all Asian countries into UPOV, the Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties, under the terms of its 1991 convention. UPOV is a specialised system of seed patenting, which makes it illegal – indeed, a criminal offense — for farmers to save and reuse patented seeds. This has huge implications for food security and farmers’ rights in the region.

On copyright and digital rights, the deal could be “even worse than TPP or ACTA”, groups say.

The RCEP appears to overlap and compete with the higher-profile TPP agreement which has become heavily influenced by the US’ economic and geopolitical agenda in the Asia-Pacific. (7 of RCEP’s member governments belong to the TPP.) Additionally, China has recently decided to champion the Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), an old US-initiated proposal to have a single free trade agreement covering all APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) member states. So the competition and overlap are between the three deals: RCEP, TPP and FTAAP.

Last update: August 2015 / Photo: Siddharth Singh

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    Links

  • AFTINET RCEP page
    Australia Fair Trade and Investment Network’s campaign page on RCEP
  • MSF RCEP page
    Medecins Sans Frontiere’s access to medecine campaign page on RCEP
  • NO RCEP regional week of action
    Facebook page maintained by the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development for the regional week of action against the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, 10-15 October 2016.
  • RCEP Legal
    Legal documents and analyses relating to the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP)

RCEP resistance

  • 24-Sep-2017 People Over Profit
    Philippine peoples’ movements reject RCEP
    Various civil society groups and movements in the Philippines came together for a public forum to voice out their opposition to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
  • 14-Sep-2017 bilaterals.org
    Inde : les vendeurs de rue se battront contre le RCEP jusqu’au bout
    Le RCEP détruirait une part importante de l’économie indienne et des moyens d’existence de la population, pour privilégier les marchés internationaux.
  • 15-Aug-2017 bilaterals.org
    Entrevista con Loon Gangte
    Loon Gangte es un activista de la India que vive con VIH y hepatitis C. Es el fundador del Delhi Network of Positive People [una red de personas seropositivas en Dehli].
  • 15-Aug-2017 bilaterals.org
    Interview de Loon Gangte
    Loon Gangte est un militant indien atteint du VIH et de l’hépatite C. Il est le fondateur du Delhi Network of Positive People (un réseau de personnes séropositives à Delhi).
  • 8-Aug-2017 bilaterals.org
    India: Hawkers will fight RCEP until the end
    RCEP would destroy a whole part of the Indian economy and livelihoods, in favour of international markets.
  • 4-Aug-2017 bilaterals.org
    Interview with Loon Gangte
    Loon Gangte is an Indian activist living with HIV and hepatitis C, founder of the Delhi Network of Positive People.
  • 1-Aug-2017 GRAIN
    Peoples’ Summit against FTAs and RCEP
    Hundreds of people gathered in Hyderabad, India, between 22 and 26 July 2017, in opposition to the 19th round of negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • 28-Jul-2017 People’s Forum against FTAs and RCEP
    Tell us who gains from RCEP: People’s Forum demands as RCEP talks end
    “Tell us at least now who gains from RCEP,” People’s Forum challenges the Indian government as the 19th round of RCEP negotiations comes to an end
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