Catholics In Coalition for Justice and Peace

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Secrecy in negotiating away people's rights

Posted 30 Jun 2019 10:00AM

June 27: 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.
 
Those endorsing the letter, including CCJP, are a very diverse mix including ActionAid , the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Caritas and Civil Liberties Australia.
 
 
“Community groups are speaking out because leaked negotiation texts show that the RCEP could include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that allow global corporations to sue governments over health and environment laws, proposals for longer medicine monopolies that would delay availability of cheaper medicines, proposals for more vulnerable temporary workers that would face exploitation, and proposals to encourage privatisation and reduce rights for governments to regulate essential services.
 
We also want the inclusion of enforceable labour rights and environmental standards which are not included in current negotiations,” said Dr Ranald
 
“We want an end to secrecy in trade negotiations. Currently trade deals are not released to the public or parliament until after they are signed. The letter demands public release of the text, an independent assessment of economic, health, gender, environmental and regional impacts before the text is signed, and for Parliament to vote on the whole agreement,” said Dr Ranald.
 
Dr Patricia Ranald
 
Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET)