‘Trade Minister Todd McClay has proclaimed a new era of openness for trade and investment negotiations in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, urging critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to “Leave your protests and your placards outside and come and join the conversation”.’
‘If he is serious there needs to be a genuine conversation, not giving people two minutes to express serious concerns about impacts on health, workers, environment, the Treaty’, says Professor Jane Kelsey, who has urged the government to open up the secretive RCEP negotiating process.
‘It turns out that industry has an additional session tomorrow to advise negotiators on what regulations they want changed.’
At the last round in Australia, where that government organised the first tentative ‘stakeholder’ engagement, concerned local experts had the opportunity to sit with negotiators on investment and intellectual property to discuss the issues with them.
‘Today’s “stakeholder” programme was a matter of ticking the box’, says Professor Kelsey.
‘Ironically, the process has gone backwards from the frustrating TPPA rounds. MFAT’s own account of the Auckland round in December 2012, before the TPPA negotiations went underground, said more than 300 stakeholders from over 200 organisation made over seventy-one presentations on topics including Intellectual Property, Labour, Environment, Market Access, and Investment and a briefing with Chief Negotiators.’
‘I have a simple message for the Minister: If you don’t want RCEP to turn into another TPPA disaster for the government, open this process for effective input and release the negotiating texts now’.