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RCEP negotiations conclude on a secret note

On the final day of the 19th round of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement held here on Friday, various collectives that raised voices over its likely impact on the country’s indigenous groups, are left with no hope.

The closed-door meetings began on July 17 at Novotel concluded on Friday and even on the final day, no information regarding it was made public.

On Tuesday, stakeholders’ consultation was held and, according to Shailly Gupta from Doctors Without Borders, the negotiators reasoned that the draft had been undergoing a lot of changes and hence cannot be shared. Doctors Without Borders has been cautioning that trade policy will make generic medicines unaffordable for a lot of people. “At least 35 persons — 20 from India and the rest from Indonesia, Thailand, US, Japan and Philippines — were sharing concerns about various aspects of the agreement. However, the common demand was to make the draft public,” said Gupta. Her organisation has been protesting against certain clauses based on the information that was leaked by a US-based company in 2015.

Meanwhile, the People’s Forum against FTAs and RCEP, asked Indian government to clarify who would gain from RCEP agreement. Calling the negotiations a sham, the Forum stated in a press release: “The Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement clause in the Investment chapter has been agreed to by the countries. It enables multinational corporations to sue governments when they take pro-people or pro-environment measures.

Besides this, the new chapter on government procurement has been pushed in at the Hyderabad round — which would mandate that in all government purchases of goods or services, foreign players should be given equal status as domestic players.” This implies that Food Corporation of India will have to procure wheat from Australian companies rather than Indian farmers, affecting the livelihood of common people. The Forum is gearing up to intensify struggle and raise the matter in  Parliament.

Source: New Indian Express

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