The negotiation for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is nearing 9th year since its formation. It is the longest negotiated and largest yet mega-trade deal that will cover the two-thirds of the worlds labor population. It compromises of 6 negotiating countries such as China, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and, Japan with the Southeast Asian countries, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, Laos and, Vietnam.
Referred to as free trade pact, the RCEP deals with countries from powerful countries and developing countries in the region that will agree on reducing import taxes and other non-trade issues. The imposition of free trade policies in a completely unequal economic capacity clearly indicates that the deal will only serve for the benefit of the powerful nations.
Since the proliferation of bilateral and regional trade deals after the consecutive failures of global scale trade agreements initiated by the World Trade Organization (WTO), Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) have only resulted to worsening situation of the already marginalized sectors within and outside the Asia Pacific Region. These agreements only further promote the neoliberal economic agenda which entails the liberalization of economy and privatization of public resources for corporate interest.
Privatization facilitated massive land grabbing and extraction of natural resources, resulting to scarcity in food and devastation of the environment. Farmers and indigenous communities in Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam were subjected to rampant land grabbing led both by the state and corporate.
Workers from across the region are already suffering from contractualization, poor working condition and meager income from multinational corporations under the liberalization policy. The opening of markets undermined the local industries of developing countries making their economy dependent from import of goods and exportation.
Once passed, RCEP will enable the monopoly in the drug market by big pharmaceutical company thru the provision on the Intellectual Property Rights. This provision proposes to extend pharmaceutical patents and data exclusivity, therefor eliminating the production of generic medicines.
RCEP will increase TNC-control in agriculture by privatizing farmers’ traditional seeds and replacing them with patented, commercial and GM seeds. This will also mean more expenses and greater bankruptcy and poverty for farmers. RCEP is a threat to the livelihood and well-being of the marginalized sectors. It will only serve for the benefit of the corporate rule at the expense of the people. The conclusion of this mega-trade deal will only fuel the desperation of powerful nations in pursuing FTAs not only in the region but also in the global sphere.
RCEP just like other FTAs that allowed liberalization in the region will exacerbate repression. State-backed repression hinders organizing activities of farmers and workers who are part of the global supply chain of agro-industrial, manufacturing and service giants. Due to its grave and massive impacts, the people must also conduct an intensified action against RCEP and advance our aspiration for a trade system that is forged through mutual benefit and primarily promotes the people’s rights. Let us call for the junking of RCEP and commemorate the International Day against Workers Repression at an early date.
On November 14, in line with the International Day against Workers Repression, people’s organizations and CSOs will be conducting an online action against the signing of RCEP and call to end repression among the workers and the people. 1. Organize Fora’s, webinars, forums, round table discussion that puts RCEP and its probable impacts. 2. Express dissent against RCEP through sending us your photo holding posters with “Junk RCEP” sign, statements, and other types of action your group or organizations can make. 3. Popularize our call to Junk RCEP!
Join us in the action on November 14, 2020 live on People Over Profit Page on Facebook.