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RCEP & agriculture

The RCEP trade deal will significantly impact agriculture and possibly deepen the damage to food sovereignty caused by previous trade agreements including those of the WTO.

The RCEP would threaten livelihoods in sectors like dairy, meat and other agricultural products by allowing duty free imports of subsidised products from Japan, New Zealand and Australia. India, with 100 million small scale dairy producers, and Vietnam are among the countries that will be most affected.

A leaked IP chapter proposed for the RCEP pushes for accession by all RCEP member states to the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991). Among the RCEP’s 16 countries, only seven are members of UPOV– the other nine (including Thailand, India, Indonesia and Philippines) would have to change their laws. UPOV 1991 provides monopoly rights to plant breeder rights at the cost of farmers’ rights. It makes it illegal, even criminal, for farmers to save seeds of protected varieties. CSOs have calculated that as a result of UPOV 1991, seed prices would go up by 200-600% in Thailand and by 400% in the Philippines.

Agrochemical sales and use in the Asia and Pacific region would also be boosted as a result of RCEP’s market access rules expanding trade in goods. Data exclusivity provisions in the IP chapter may also extend the patent protection periods of such products, putting upward pressure on food prices.

Another clear threat is land grabbing. If adopted, the leaked investment chapter and services chapter of RCEP may each provide that RCEP members may not discriminate against foreign corporations that want to buy local farmland. In many RCEP countries, this is not possible under current law and could have serious repercussions for agrarian reform in the region.


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The senate on September 20 unanimously passed (38-0) two draft laws authorising the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and the bilateral Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA).
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Can an Australia–India FTA succeed where RCEP failed?
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Analysis | India has rightly shunned RCEP for now
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Japan to keep tariffs on sensitive farm product imports in RCEP deal
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Collectively to reject the RCEP negotiations in the middle of a pandemic
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India’s withdrawal from RCEP a breather on many fronts
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Rejecting RCEP preserved India’s milk self-sufficiency’
The decision of keeping India out of the Regional Comprehension Economic Partnership (RCEP) has helped crores of farmers and prevented the likely shift shift of India from a self-sufficient milk producer to importer.
Decision to keep away from RCEP, right move on part of India
India, in recent days, is faced with Hamletian dilemma. To join or not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade association consisting of 16 nations including India.
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India has to withdraw formally and fully from RCEP negotiations & similar FTAs: Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (ICCFM)
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China urges RCEP members to include India in trade bloc
A Chinese state-run English daily said, “the countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership shouldn’t lose the chance to include India."
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Peasants and small scale food producers in India intensify their protest against RCEP free trade agreement
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Farmers’ organisations call for rejecting RCEP agreement
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Why the rice trade wants India in the RCEP
The Indian rice trade is keen that the cereal is included as part of the agreement as it could help boost exports.