Over one hundred representatives from CSOs, and POs as well as development workers and experts on trade in Asia Pacific are set to gather at an online research conference on free trade agreements from 25 January 2021 to 29 January 2021. This comes at the heels of the changing landscape of foreign trade and investment to address the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic. The main aim is to increase people’s understanding of the impacts of global and regional policies at the national level. This research conference endeavors to produce advocacy and engagement campaigns that would resonate at the global level.

Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), opens the second day of the APRN Research Conference on FTAs in the Asia-Pacific, highlighting Day 2’s theme on Genuine Agrarian Reform. Mariano gave an overview on the current land situation in several semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries, specifically in the Philippines; as well as provided insights on how multilateral institutions affect and maintain this exploitative system. To close his speech, he offered a strong and sharp stance on the need for Genuine Agrarian Reform as a base for development coupled with national industrialization and pro-people economic policies.

Ima Ariate, Program Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Asia-Pacific Research Network, presents her research on Land use and the social narratives of peasant resistance in Vietnam. Ariate elaborated on Vietnam’s changes in land policies to a more market oriented one and its ill effects towards the relationship of peasants and the State. Ariate has also highlighted that the peasant resistance in the country has inevitably shaped the course of its history and state development. She provided case studies of rightful peasant resistance through land occupation, protests, and prospects for movement building.

Farida Akhter, Founding Executive Director of UBINIG, presents her input on the state of Agriculture and farmers in the context of trade in Bangladesh. She discussed issues on big agrocorporations, negative socio-economic, environmental, and health effects of GMOs; and the overall effect of neoliberal globalization on peasants.

Center for Research and Advocacy – Manipur’s Jiten Yumnam, opened the second part of the plenary discussing the theme of Environment Protection. Mr. Yumnam emphasized that the neoliberalization of the development process has dealt a huge deal damage to the land, forests, and people’s environmental rights. He also highlighted the people’s resistance against these attacks and the continuing struggle for genuine and sustainable development.

Adam Wolfenden of the Pacific Network of Globalization, presented “Fishing for Access: WTO Fisher Subsidies negotiations undermining small-scale fishers and control of natural resources in the Global South”, wherein he discussed trade policies and agreements that are affecting small time fisherfolk in developing countries and how it favors countries with greater capacities and the corporate fisheries sector.

Lia Alonzo, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Concerns presented the research on “The Potential Alternatives to OceanaGold Mining in Didipio, Philippines”. She discussed that Indigenous Knowledge, Skills, and Practices in mining which had little to no negative environmental impact and addresses the direct need of the community is possible, and can be cultivated further through the help of modern technology that are properly utilized and local scientists for the genuine development of the people.