Civil Society Open letter to Governments in the 16 RCEP Countries

Dear Trade Ministers & Negotiators from the RCEP countries,

Subject: TPP rules in RCEP must be rejected
This is an urgent call by 316 civil society organisations from across the Asian and Pacific countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes the 10 ASEAN Member States with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

This letter comes at a very important political moment, when in the aftermath of the US elections it seems clear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) will not be ratified by the USA, in spite of its big push since February 2016 when the agreement was signed by the 12 countries.

It is clear that the TPP has been soundly rejected by the American people and there has also been widespread opposition to it in other TPP countries on both sides of the Pacific. According to the TPP text, if the US does not ratify it, the TPP cannot come into force.

The current negotiations in RCEP are complicated by the fact that there are 6 countries which are part of the TPP and there have been many attempts to import TPP texts into RCEP and sometimes even an attempt to go beyond the TPP. A few examples below bear testimony to how TPP wording is being proposed in RCEP.

In the investment chapter, apart from a few safeguards, all the TPP’s substantive and main investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions have been proposed in the leaked RCEP investment chapter.
In services, for example, all the substantive TPP telecommunications chapter rules have been proposed in RCEP according to the leaked RCEP text.
In RCEP’s leaked draft e-commerce terms of reference, all the TPP ecommerce chapter rules appear to be proposed and all the RCEP ecommerce ideas appear to come from the TPP, therefore proposing an exact match of the texts
In the leaked RCEP intellectual property (IP) chapter, Japan, South Korea and some others are pushing many of the main substantive stronger IP provisions of the TPP
With the demise of the TPP, there is no justification for adhering to the TPP texts in RCEP because these have no mandate. This is even more irrational in the absence of the TPP as Asian countries (including least developed countries (LDCs)) would end up carrying the load that other rich countries in the TPP (US, Canada) will not have to bear any more.

The RCEP texts which have leaked so far have many fundamental problems that will negatively impact all sectors of society in RCEP countries. [1]

We call upon the governments participating in the RCEP, to recognize this critical moment and not to bring the toxic content of the TPP into the RCEP and instead to stop the RCEP negotiations.

We urge you to revisit the trade relations between the 16 countries. A new model must be based on cooperation and not competition, one that puts the development needs of the region above that of corporations, and puts people and the environment at its centre, that recognizes economic policy can work only if it is inclusive, not only in terms of the impact on different constituencies but also if it integrates the social and environmental concerns of the world.

Date: 14th November 2016
 
For Immediate Release
 
Unavailability of Affordable Hepatitis C Treatments Threatening Malaysian Lives 
 
KUALA LUMPUR: 
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that over one million people in low- and middle-income countries have been treated with a revolutionary new cure for hepatitis C since its introduction two years ago.
 
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is highly infectious, and one of the leading causes of death around the world where at least 185 million people have been infected. Globally, the morbidity and mortality attributable to HCV infection continues to increase and approximately 700,000 people die each year from HCV-related complications which include cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcimoa (HCC).
 
Egypt alone has treated approximately 670, 000 people with new anti-virals that can cure HCV. Egypt has access to affordable anti-virals due to generic competition, enabling the Egyptian government to massively scale-up treatment. 
 
Sofosbuvir, the backbone for HCV treatment which is exorbitantly priced at US$64,680 in the US, is available in Egypt for as low as US$150.
 
Cheaper quality generic Sofosbuvir is also available from countries such as India for about US$300 for a 12-week treatment course.
 
In Malaysia, a 2009 estimate states that at least half a million people are believed to have been infected with HCV. Due to the asymptomatic nature of the disease, most infected persons are unaware of their infection. Thus in reality, many more are likely to be infected.
 
Those diagnosed do not have access to affordable treatment. In 2015 a patient in a private hospital was charged RM385, 000 for a 24-week course.
 
This unreasonable price tag price tag by Gilead a multinational pharmaceutical company  threatens the lives of the thousands of Malaysians that needs prompt access to affordable treatment.
 
We call on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to urgently take the necessary steps to ensure that Hepatitis C treatment is available at affordable prices for all in need.
 
 
Contact communication officer, Mr Khusyairi +6011-11473477