[Ip-health] Fwd: [aidanindia] Pre Civil Society raises major concerns on India’s engagement with the massive RCEP trade deal

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Thu Jun 11 07:34:40 PDT 2015

Apologies for cross posting

*Press Statement: Civil Society raises major concerns on India’s engagement
with the massive RCEP trade deal*

11 June 2015, New Delhi—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.

Patient groups including Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) along with
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition- South Asia rallied outside
the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi to send a signal about the dangers the
trade deal poses to access to medicines.

Started in May 2013, the RCEP is being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and six trading
partners, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Several countries involved in negotiations on RCEP, including Japan, are
also participating in another potentially harmful trade deal known as the
Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement being led by the USA, and will
push for harmonization of RCEP with TPP. There are already widespread
concerns about the implications of the TPP on future policy space for
industrialization, access to medicines, internet freedom, environment, and
the right of the government’s to regulate in public interest. The TPP is
being severely opposed by civil society groups, trade unions and people’s
movements worldwide.

*Quotes on the harmful impact of RCEP trade deal could have from Civil
Society Organizations who are closely following the negotiations:*
*RCEP and its impact on access to medicines*

“We have learnt through leaked texts that Japan and South Korea in
closed-door negotiations, are aggressively pushing for stronger
intellectual property (IP) provisions such as patent term extensions, data
exclusivity and lowering of the patentability criteria. If accepted, these
provisions would extend monopoly protection beyond what is required by
existing international agreements and create new kinds of monopolies, even
after patent-based monopolies have expired or in cases where they never
existed to begin with.

We had expected RCEP to be the antithesis of the Trans Pacific Partnership
Agreement (TPP) that seems to serve the interests of the multinational
pharmaceutical corporations, but in fact, the leaked RCEP negotiating text
appears to be a carbon copy of the worst IP provisions of the TPP that seek
to stamp out generic competition and restrict access to affordable
medicines to millions of people.

DNP+ along with ITPC- South Asia are protesting outside the Japanese
embassy in New Delhi, asking why Japan and other countries in the RCEP
negotiations are waging a war against poor patients, and urging the
Japanese government to remove the harmful intellectual property (IP)
provisions in this trade deal that could delay the availability of low-cost
generic medicines.”

Loon Gangte, DNP+ and International Treatment Preparedness Coalition- South

*RCEP & Seed Trade*
“The leaked IP chapter of RCEP proposes all its members to either accede to
or ratify over a dozen international IP-related agreements, including the
International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants
(better known as UPOV) and particularly its 1991 version which gives
primacy to corporate plant breeders, putting restrictions on farmers to
save seed and researchers and breeders to access protected plant varieties
for further research and development only on prior permission and payment
of royalties to the breeder.

India has intentionally kept out from the UPOV 1991 Act to 'protect' small
farmers and non-corporate breeders, allowing them to register varieties
bred by them and also to seek 'benefit sharing' if the varieties developed
by them are used as base material by the seed industry to make new seed
products. RCEP membership will have serious implications for the domestic
law on the protection of plant varieties and farmer’s rights.

The leaked IP drafts of South Korea and Japan contain a clear ask for IP
protection for plant varieties that goes well beyond what the World Trade
Organisation (WTO)’s IP rules require from its member countries. RCEP in
its current form will put additional pressure on India to join UPOV 1991, a
clear WTO-plus measure, from which India has intentionally remained out so
far. Seed companies from China, Japan and Korea are also pushing for
harmonisation of seed IP laws in the region through the Asia & Pacific Seed

Shalini Bhutani, Legal researcher and policy analyst

*RCEP and Agriculture*

“With countries such as Australia and New Zealand that have an aggressive
interest in dairy, RCEP will increase imports of agricultural products into
India. It is unfortunate that the Government of India has not consulted
with farmers' organisations regarding the RCEP negotiations, especially in
light of the already visible adverse impacts of the ASEAN free trade
agreement on India’s agriculture.”

Yudhvir Singh, Convener of Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement

*Threat to Democracy*

“The RCEP agreement is a threat to democracy and accountability of the
Government of India towards the public. Not only is this deal is being
negotiated in secret without proper consultation, it will also bind future
governments regardless of the decisions of national elections, parliaments
and courts. The RCEP is a direct threat to the provision of quality public
services as they are designed to encourage privatization, seek to create
new and powerful rights for large multinational corporations and restrict
governments’ ability to regulate policies in the public interest.”

Lakshmi Vaidhiyanathan, Secretary for the Asia Pacific Region, Public
Services International

*Impact Assessment of FTAs is a must before moving forward*

“It will be good to remember that at the beginning of the current
government’s term, our Commerce Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman had stated
that the government will review all its FTAs to assess their impact. It is
unfortunate that even before concluding this review the government is going
forward with an FTA of such scale and depth.

For long, Indian civil society has been demanding the socio-economic impact
assessment of FTAs including the RCEP, against their contribution to
inclusive and just development. But the government has not taken any step
in this regard.”

Afsar Jafri, Focus on the Global South

*Notes to the Editor*

Leaked IP text proposed by Japan: http://keionline.org/node/2173

Leaked IP text proposed by South Korea: http://www.keionline.org/node/2239

*Spokespersons' contact details:*

Loon Gangte, DNP+: +91-9871029514

Afsar Jafri, Focus on Global South: +91- 9582070803

Yudhvir Singh, Convener of Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement:

Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher & Policy Analyst:+91-9810433076

Kannan, Public Services International: +91-9840365950

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