Trade & Investment Policies During a Pandemic: What does it mean for the Asia Pacific?

The world has been experiencing the far-reaching impacts of decade-long neoliberal globalization. The liberalization of trade and investments allowed the proliferation and foreign corporate take-over of natural resources both in labor and environment. The privatization of public resources such as education, health, and basic social services has worsened the living condition of the people. Thus, neoliberal globalization resulted in increased maldevelopment and widening gap between rich and poor countries.

The adverse impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on top of the perennial crisis brought by the capitalist system is pushing for an escalated imposition of neoliberal globalization through free trade agreements and so-called economic partnerships. The recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP) is proof of desperation among these powerful nations to set up new and escalate the liberalization of economy.

Soon after its conclusion, China expressed its intent of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans- Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) during the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. RCEP and CPTPP has placed the Asia- Pacific region at center of the emerging new liberal trade and investment order.

But the unimpeded crisis and rivalry between emerging superpowers will leave no stone unturned in terms of exploiting the global populace. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has celebrated its 25 years this year. Although the ministerial conference is rescheduled to 2021, the working party is pushing for the settlement of the agenda through virtual means. In fact, WTO is eyeing at further liberalization of labor, ecommerce, fishing and food sector as the key to adapt to the impending crisis.

With the huge impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the lives of the people, there is a need to look at the significant trade agreements in the region and the people’s alternative to the currently prevailing system.

Objectives

  1. To discuss the state of play of trade and investment order in the region.
  2. To discuss the significant trade deals in the region and its impact to the people.
  3. To explore how trade and investment policies in the region may be impacting Covid response.
  4. To highlight the people’s resistance against these FTAs and put forward policy recommendations.

Program

Date: November 28, 2020

Time: 13:00- 15:00 Bangkok Time

TOPICSpeaker/ OrganizationTime
1. Opening Remarks Rina, APWLD13:00 – 13:05
2. On WTO’s current agenda and its specific effects in the region.Ranja Sengupta, former co-chair APRCEM/NGO Constituency13:05- 13:20
3. On the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) and other important trade deals in the region e.g. CPTPPJazminda Lumang, APRN13:2035 -13:350
4. ON PACER PlusAdam Wolfenden
Pacific Network on Globalization
13:35-13:50
5. Keynote: Impacts of Covid-19 response on trade and investment Sanya Reid Smith, TWN13:50- 14:05
OPEN FORUM/Policy Recommendations 14:05-14:45
Wrap-up/Ways forward/Call to Action APRCEM Working group on Trade14:45-15:00