It’s Our Future is alarmed over media reports that the NZ Labour Government will sign up to the secret Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal with fourteen other Asia-Pacific economies on 14 November.
“There is nothing to gain from this latest trade deal. Instead it is likely to hinder the economic recoveries of RCEP countries, including New Zealand”, said It’s Our Future spokesperson Edward Miller.
“The government’s only rationale has been that RCEP is a backdoor to a free trade agreement with India. Now India has backed out, deciding that RCEP is not in its national interest. New Zealand needs to do the same”, Mr Miller said.
“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?”
“In the seven long years since the RCEP negotiation began, tens of thousands of New Zealanders have marched against these mega trade deals”, said Mr Miller. “The global tide has since turned on corporate-led trade and investment deals like the RCEP that put profit before people and planet.”
RCEP economies represent a third of the planet’s population, most of which are still reeling from covid-19’s health and economic 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 economic recover – for what?”
Recent economic modelling from the Third World Network concludes that even under conditions of full tariff liberalisation New Zealand will experience only a 0.15% GDP increase from the RCEP, because we already have trade agreements with most of the economies in the negotiation.
“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.”