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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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RCEP - trade in goods chapter negotiating text (August 2015)
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New mega-treaty in the pipeline: what does RCEP mean for farmers’ seeds in Asia?
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As the eighth round of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement take place in Kyoto, Japan this week, farmer’s groups, trade unions, civil society and patient groups are urging the Indian Government to halt the negotiations, make the negotiating texts public and hold consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, in light of the potential negative impact this agreement could have on access to medicines, livelihood of farmers, quality public services and overall social and economic development of the country.
Protests by farmers and trade unions against the mega FTA RCEP
As negotiators from 16 nations meet in New Delhi for 5 day consultations on the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP), farmers, trade unions, retailers groups, and civil society organisations protested outside the India Expo Mart in Greater Noida. RCEP is a complex North South Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that India is negotiating with the 10 member ASEAN block plus Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Farmers, trade unions and CSOs call to halt RCEP negotiations
In the backdrop of 6th Round of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations scheduled to take place from 1-5 December 2014 in Greater Noida, India farmers’ organizations, trade unions and civil society organizations expressed serious concern over the very idea of free trade agreement (FTA), lack of transparency and the absence of socio economic impact assessments to asses the impact of the proposed FTA.