APWLD | 12 November 2020
Women’s movement across Asia and the Pacific demand #NoRCEP
After eight years of negotiations since 2012, the mega free trade agreement – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (#RCEP) will be signed by member countries soon. As the name suggests, RCEP is comprehensive in its coverage, attempting to regulate trade and investment liberalisation. It will exceed the minimum standards prescribed by the World Trade Organization (#WTO). Not only do the issues negotiated in RCEP cover trade in goods and services, but also include investment, electronic commerce, protection of intellectual property, and others.
RCEP gives multi-national corporations the right to govern at the expense of women’s livelihoods, the environment and democracy. Women are going to be the worst affected by this free trade agreement. Land grabbing for corporate agriculture will impact their food sovereignty, rights over land and seed preservation. It will force women to migrate to seek labour and become vulnerable to trafficking. RCEP and other similar free trade agreements are in reality the legal contract to give multinational corporations rights to destroy traditional livelihoods and lifestyles of indigenous communities. Indigenous women as the traditional keeper of their community’s local knowledge, seed, biodiversity and food sovereignty will lose their control as RCEP will put these knowledge and biodiversity into the hands of corporations under the guise of intellectual property.
The ongoing #COVID19 pandemic has shown the precariousness of global-value chain and multilateral trade systems as a whole. At a time when countries should be focusing on fighting the pandemic, the push to sign a mega-trade deal like RCEP is a misplaced priority. The current crisis further illustrates the importance of the call that the feminists movement has been demanding - a feminist #tradejustice agenda that will remedy inequalities, ensure gender-responsive public services and infrastructure, promote and protect women’s human rights, both in this time of pandemic and the time to come after.
As the 10 ASEAN countries and their 5 trading partners get ready to sign the anti-people trade deal, the countries must conduct social and human rights impact analysis on RCEP before signing or ratifying it.
Join the local or national movements in your countries and demand the government to STOP RCEP!
To know more about the #NoRCEP campaign, visit www.apwld.org.