The hidden costs of RCEP for India

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is being negotiated in Hyderabad, India this week (July 22). If signed, RCEP would grant corporations the exclusive right to bypass domestic legal systems and sue States at international tribunals whenever they feel government regulation can limit their profits. India is already the target of 40% of all cases filed against RCEP countries. The country also tops the ranking with regard to financial claims: India has been sued for at least 12.3 billion USD by foreign investors since 1994.

Signing RCEP would only exacerbate this trend. A growing wave of corporate lawsuits against Asian countries could see millions of US dollars drained from public budgets and governments’ rights to regulate in the public interest undermined.

RCEP goes against India’s current policy to terminate and renegotiate existing Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), and the effort to implement a new model BIT, with fewer possibilities for corporations to sue the government.

“The RCEP deal threatens to lock in these corporate tribunals, undermining government’s right to regulate, public budgets and India’s own attempts to reform its Bilateral Investment Treaties” claimed Sam Cossar-Gilbert from Friends of the Earth International.

The current wave of lawsuits provides a warning of the high costs of the proposed RCEP trade deal.

“RCEP will deepen the rights of investors and lock in place a system of privatized justice. Governments will find it much more difficult to withdraw their commitments to the rights accorded to foreign investors in RCEP than in Bilateral Investment Treaties, because they would need to put an end to the whole agreement and not just the sections on investors’ rights” said Benny Kuruvilla from the research organisation Transnational Institute.

— source tni.org by Benny Kuruvilla 2017-07-22

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