GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – RCEP and its fallout

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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.

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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. NZ has already signed our sovereignty away… trade deals include foreign visas.

    Trade agreements introduce more ways for foreign companies and individuals to buy up property and assets and bring more ‘workers’ over to get residency in NZ…

    These trade agreements are dictating visas into NZ for example in the China upgrade as well as buying real estate in NZ…

    “Movement of Natural Persons
    The FTA Upgrade will make adjustments to the chapter on Movement of Natural Persons of the existing FTA, to reallocate the visa allocations for “iconic Chinese occupations”. The overall visa cap of 800 places will remain unchanged, but the allocations within the existing five categories have been redistributed. In particular, there will be:
     an increase for Chinese Tour Guides (from 100 to 200 places)
     an increase for Mandarin Teaching Aides (from 150 to 300 places); and
    a corresponding decrease to other, less utilised categories (Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Wushu Martial Arts Coaches).
    In addition, the existing Chinese Tour Guide category will be broadened to “Chinese Tourism Specialist”. New eligibility criteria will be introduced that are designed to make it easier for New Zealand businesses to employ suitably qualified staff through this visa category.”

    In the face of spying and security – a good way to get the right people into NZ from the PRC point of view.

    Funny how with Covid, National that sells it’s list MP seats for $100k, did not do so well as foreign nationals were caught off guard and could not vote as easily in NZ due to Covid.

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