Activist countries

Reactions from international civil society to the announcement of IPEF member countries

During President Biden’s trip to Japan today, the White House announced the launch of Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) talks with the United States, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Others may join later.

Academics and representatives of civil society organizations from these countries, many of whom are veterans of the international movement that derailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), reacted to the announcement. These reactions reflect a shared demand that any Indo-Pacific discussion provide a genuine alternative to the failed 20th century free trade model, which undermined the ability of governments to regulate Big Tech and other big business, and must be conducted in a transparent and participatory manner. way.

Kate Lappin, Asia-Pacific Regional Secretary, Public Services International (PSI)
Contact: [email protected]

[PSI’s Asia and Pacific region covers 122 unions in 22 countries, (including IPEF countries announced today) and related territories with a membership of two million workers. The regional office is based in Singapore.]

“The proposed Indo-Pacific economic framework threatens to provide another space for multinational corporations to undermine democracy and establish global rules that put profits before people. Instead of creating new trade rules, countries should focus on removing trade rules that have proven to be barriers to global public health, access to vaccines, medicines and treatments and block a just recovery and fair.

Dr. Patricia Ranald, Facilitator, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
Contact: [email protected]

“IPEF cannot achieve its stated goals of improving workers’ rights and environmental standards without a much more transparent process with meaningful involvement of trade unions, environmental groups and other civil society groups. It will certainly not achieve these goals if it is modeled on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which entrenched medical monopolies, gave corporations special rights to sue governments through investor-state dispute settlement ( ISDS) and has deregulated digital commerce in a way that makes it more difficult. to fight against the market dominance of Big Tech companies.

Sun Kim, MS, Ph.D., Director, Center for Health Policy Research, Center for Global Solidarity Research, People’s Health Institute (PHI), South Korea

“With the lowest margin ever, South Korea’s newly elected president is rushing to join this unprecedented trading platform. Nobody knows the content or the intention of the new government. A group of South Korean farmers have previously expressed concerns about the government’s process of joining the CPTPP agreement, but they are again faced with this situation. Any international negotiations, especially those that would have a significant impact on people’s health and lives, should involve the people who will be affected, and their voices must be heard and included. The concern of South Korean civil society is not the functionality of the Samsung semiconductor factory, but the life of the North Korean people under the current Covid outbreak, with a severe lack of resources due to embargo imposed by the US government.

Shoko Uchida, co-director of the Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), Japan
Contact: [email protected]

“We, civil society in Japan, express great concern about IPEF as a new economic framework. Although tariff reductions are apparently not included, the digital economy and the strengthening of supply chains would be among the issues to be discussed. In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic and as the food and energy crisis is about to become a reality, we are reminded of the problems with existing “free trade” rules, such as those included in the TPP. To achieve a world where “no one is left behind”, we need a different business model that contributes to workers’ rights, farmers’ sovereignty, the environment, human rights and local economies.

Dr Jane Kelsey, Professor of Retirement Law, Trade Justice Activist, Aotearoa, New Zealand

“Given the United States’ long history of crafting global trade rules on behalf of its mega-corporations, we view the IPEF with deep skepticism. If President Biden, USTR Tai and Secretary of Commerce Raimondo can produce a real alternative that puts people and planet first, and can convince our governments to genuinely support this new paradigm, we will work to make it succeed. But if the IPEF is just another vehicle to promote the old corporate agenda and a substitute for US geopolitical goals, we will campaign against it as we did with the TPPA.

Annie Enriquez Geron, Secretary General of the Independent Confederation of Public Service Labor (PSLINK), Philippines
[email protected]

“ASEAN workers know that trade rules, written by corporations and rich countries, are a way to drive down wages and allow the privatization of our public services, our resources and now even our data. “

Joseph Purugganan – Coordinator, Trade Justice Pilipinas
Dr. Rene Ofreneo – Chairman, Freedom from Debt Coalition

“As if high drug prices, vaccine apartheid and the stalling of the COVID TRIPS waiver at the WTO weren’t enough, corporations, acting through wealthy country governments, want us, in the developing world now accepting IPEF, where they are trying to entrench Big Pharma’s monopoly on medicines through even longer and stronger intellectual property protection, while exposing our beleaguered and short-sighted nations debt to investor-state dispute settlement and requiring digital economy provisions that undermine our digital sovereignty IPEF digital economy provisions are likely to lock in the tax-exempt status of large platforms, which globally already benefit from tax planning. This means more lost revenue for the government and a competitive disadvantage for local businesses that pay all kinds of state and local taxes.

Mohideen Abdul Kader, President of the Consumers Association of Penang, Malaysia

“The IPEF would be detrimental to Malaysia. US multinationals are openly pushing for provisions that would prevent the Malaysian government from buying preferentially from local companies, and for stronger intellectual property protection that would make drugs more expensive. The digital economy provisions would undermine Malaysia’s privacy, consumer protection, health, environment, finance, taxation and other crucial regulations, while the provisions investor-state dispute settlement rules would limit Malaysia’s ability to regulate and expose it to paying billions of dollars in fines to foreign investors. These are among the problematic provisions that are unacceptable to Malaysia.

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director, Citizens Trade Campaign, USA
Contact: [email protected]

“The first step in building a new ‘worker-centric’ business model is to partner with countries committed to respecting core labor and human rights standards. Ongoing rights abuses in the Philippines and some other IPEF members would undermine the Biden administration’s goal of establishing a new model of international commerce that puts workers first over corporate interests.

Melinda St. Louis, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, USA
Contact: [email protected]

“Now that IPEF is officially launched, it’s time to learn the details. How will President Biden ensure a transparent and participatory process? Will strong labor and environmental standards be at the heart of IPEF? Or will countries commit to hugely pro-Big Tech digital trade terms at the expense of labor rights and consumer privacy? Public Citizen is eager to see and help shape the “worker-centric” trade policy needed to promote equality, sustainability and prosperity in the global economy.

V. Narasimhan, General Secretary, All India National Life Insurance Employees Federation

“Indian workers and farmers have fought successfully against trade deals that threaten our jobs, livelihoods and public services. We have blocked India from joining RCEP and we will do the same if IPEF or any other trade agreement includes rules that benefit foreign investors and not the Indian people.

Parminder Jeet Singh Forum on Trade and Development, India

“Indian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are very concerned about the potential implications of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). Regional and global economic partnership projects should aim to help national economies develop national self-reliance and resilience and expand international trade on their own terms, rather than becoming means to coerce less powerful countries into mortgaging their independence. economy for the benefit of world economic powers and multinational companies. This is also a key lesson from the COVID-19 outbreak.

We are particularly concerned that the IPEF will also be used to curtail much-needed efforts for digital industrialization and country sovereignty, and herald a new era of digital colonialism.

Indian CSOs are also extremely concerned that companies are demanding stronger intellectual property protection on medicines, investor-state dispute settlement and other provisions of the highly problematic Trans-Pacific Partnership and any IPEF should not contain any of these provisions.

Evi Krisnawati, President of FSP FARKES R
(Pharmacy and Health Workers Union – Indonesia)
Contact: [email protected]

“The pandemic has allowed multinationals to make obscene profits, protected by the trade rules they have designed. The last thing our government should be doing is negotiating new trade rules that could give even more power to Big Tech and others to profit from and control data that may be needed for public health and the public good.

Rachmi Hertanti, Business Campaign Activist, Indonesia

“The IPEF is once again a model treaty that will only serve the interests of business rather than the people themselves. The high-level provisions regulated by the IPEF do not serve to protect the rights of individuals, but as a model of competition to hinder the competitiveness of developing countries in ASEAN. And it will facilitate the high protection of the rights of American companies against the unfair trade practices of other competing countries, such as China for example. It remains unclear how the United States will set a clear standard for true human rights and environmental protection.