For those who think it is useless to protest, that the people’s voice doesn’t matter anymore and big business can do whatever it likes, the things that seem to have been left out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), signed yesterday, gives cautious reason for hope that the exploitative days of hyperglobalisation are coming to an end.
In an excellent opinion piece yesterday by Prof Jane Kelsey
(whose tireless informed activism free trade agreements led to the massive street protests against the TPPA) comments:
“There is no chapter on state-owned enterprises or government procurement, no right for foreign investors to enforce special rights through investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), some intellectual property rights for Big Pharma are absent or diluted, the electronic commerce chapter left out some rules and is not enforceable.”
Covid- 19 is a terrible pandemic we are still battling and while I wish it were otherwise, it has pushed the ‘pull up’ button on hypergloabalisation
The very fact that RCEP is different in all the above aspects from previous “Free Trade” agreements suggests that companies in many countries may now be looking to do more business within their own borders because having supply chains around the world has made them vulnerable to collapse.
Certainly we should be looking to becoming more economically self -sufficient and buying and selling locally rather than off internet companies such as Amazon is something we could all do to help each other through these tough times.
I don’t know how this will all play out. I doubt anyone does at this stage.
My hope is that we are on the road to Fair Trade not Free Trade (which has never been “Free” but come at the price of worker and environmental exploitation imposed by Big Business.
But it is a cautious hope because I know it would be foolish to think that those who have profited most from the previous neoliberal free trade deals are sleeping.
On the same day the RCEP was signed came news of yet another vaccine that may halt this pandemic in its tracks.
So we need to use this moment of pause to determine that when things get back to ‘normal’ that it is a ‘ new normal’ where fairness rules not the ‘old normal’ which pandered to the rich at the expense of the many.
Here is the link to Prof Jsne Kelsey’s excellent opinion piece.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.