RCEP & intellectual property

An analysis of the leaked IP chapter proposed for the RCEP shows that Japan and South Korea are proposing intellectual property (IP) provisions referred to as TRIPS-plus, which go far beyond the obligations under the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

The proposed provisions seek to extend pharmaceutical corporations’ patent terms beyond the usual 20 years and also would require data exclusivity that limits competition. Such provisions are a cause for great concern among public health groups over their potential adverse impact on access to affordable medicines.

RCEP also treats IP as an investment made by investor corporations, allowing private investment disputes (ISDS) to be raised against the host country whenever there is a threat to their IP. Treating IP as an investment, and subjecting it to treaty arbitration, can have undesirable impacts on the hard-bargained flexibilities in IP laws and on public health safeguards that countries like India have earned over the years.

Further, civil society groups have expressed concern about the copyright protection standards proposed under the RCEP IP Chapter which could stifle creativity and free speech.

The leaked IP chapter also 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), to which only seven of the RCEP negotiating countries are already member. UPOV 1991 provides monopoly rights to plant breeder rights at the cost of farmers’ rights, making it illegal for farmers to save seeds of protected vartieties.

Data exclusivity provisions in the IP chapter may extend the patent protection periods of agrochemical products as well, putting upward pressure on food prices.

RCEP governments must recall their international, regional and national commitments to respect, protect and fulfill the right to health including the right to access affordable medicines. In their quest for greater economic integration, RCEP negotiating countries must not put the lives and health of millions of people in the Asia-Pacific region at risk.


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date title
  • 11-Jun-2015 Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+)
    Civil Society raises major concerns on India’s engagement with the massive RCEP trade deal
    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.
  • 5-Jun-2015 Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Meet RCEP, a trade agreement in Asia that’s even worse than TPP or ACTA
    It’s been a big few weeks for leaked trade agreements. Just when we thought we had seen all the leaked text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), Wikileaks went ahead and published some more yesterday. And on the same day, a leaked draft of the intellectual property chapter of yet another trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was leaked by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI).
  • 4-Jun-2015 KEI
    RCEP - draft IP text from Japan (2014)
    as leaked by KEI on 10 Feb 2015
  • 4-Jun-2015 KEI
    RCEP - draft IP text from Korea (Oct 2014)
    As leaked by KEI on 3 June 2015
  • 11-Feb-2015 DNP+
    DNP+ response to RCEP negotiations on Intellectual Property ongoing in Thailand
    Japan is pushing for intellectual property rules in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that will undermine and delay access to affordable generic medecine in Asia.
  • 3-Dec-2014 MSF
    People living with HIV rally in streets of Delhi as India hosts RCEP trade negotiations
    As the 6th round of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement take place in India, people living with HIV are rallying in the streets of New Delhi to warn that harmful intellectual property provisions - put forth by Japan - could severely restrict access to affordable medicines for people in developing countries.
  • 27-Aug-2014 IPWatch
    Médecins Sans Frontières warns about IP inclusion in Asian FTA
    The inclusion of intellectual property in the ongoing negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between 16 countries, most of them Asian, is raising concerns about “TRIPS-plus” measures that could jeopardise generic drugs production in India, according to Médecins Sans Frontières.
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