Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership could affect COVID-19 recovery

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership could affect COVID-19 recovery

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The NZ Labour Government will be signing up for a trade deal under Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trading with fourteen other Asia-Pacific economies on November 14 of this year.

The gains of doing this are dire, nothing to benefit New Zealand, and it is likely to affect the economic recovery of RCEP countries, including New Zealand.

It’s Our Future spokesperson Edward Miller says that the governments only rationable has been that RCEP is a ‘backdoor’ to a free trade agreement with India. 

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“Now India has backed out, deciding that RCEP is not in its national interest. New Zealand needs to do the same”, said Mr Miller. 

“We still have next to no public effective consultation on closed-door trade deals like the RCEP. There is no publicly available text and no clear intention to bring these discussions out of the shadows. Has the NZ Government forgotten the public response to the equally secretive TPPA negotiation?”

When RCEP negotiations began, seven long years passed, and tens of thousands of New Zealanders have marched against the trade deals in hopes they won’t proceed through under the Labour-led government.

“The global tide has since turned on corporate-led trade and investment deals like the RCEP that put profit before people and planet”, said Mr Miller. 

RCEP represents a third of the population of the world, and most of the population is still suffering from the effects that COVID-19 has put on them, including health and financial impacts.

“Policymakers have grown increasingly aware that corporate trade deals like the RCEP could encroach upon policy space and the freedom to regulate, preventing governments from taking necessary actions to safeguard public health and the economy recover – for what?”, said Mr Miller. 

“The economic benefits of this best-case scenario look slim and unreliable”, continued Miller. “It’s certainly not worth putting further constraints on policy space at this crucial time, with unemployment and child poverty rising, a housing bubble quickly inflating and the climate crisis looming on the agenda.”

“It is deeply concerning that, amidst these real crises, the NZ Labour Government is continuing with this broken model of corporate trade deals.”

Modelling of Third World Network concludes that even under conditions of full tariff liberalisation, New Zealand will experience around 0.15% GDP increase from the RCEP. This is due to already having trade agreements with most of the economic populations in negotiation.

Image: Adobestock

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