Civil Society Speaks Out on Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) Following Limited Engagement Opportunity

Denpasar, Bali, 17 March 2023. A number of civil society organisations from several countries have submitted direct interventions to negotiators related to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) economic cooperation. This intervention was presented at the Forum Stakeholder Event on IPEF at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC) on (17/3) organized by the United States Government.

Following participation in this limited, corporate-dominated listening session, civil society experts shared their experiences and analysis at a press conference in Bali. The stakeholder event has been a one-way listening session without further explanations of the provisions within IPEF from the United States as the chair. By that, the public is facing uncertainty over IPEF’s potential threats to their lives.

The civil society emphasized the IPEF’s geopolitical dimension and concern about developing countries being caught in the middle of a trade war. The participation of developing countries in IPEF must be on the basis of mutual benefit, not involved in another cold war between rival great powers.

Quotes from Select Speakers:

“The IPEF should not restrict existing flexibility and safeguards rules for developing countries, especially Indonesia, to deal with imports of farm products”

  • Dewa Ayu Made Padmi, Aliansi Petani Indonesia (Indonesian Peasants Alliance)

“IPEF is touted as a labour agreement and will be a litmus test of the Biden administration’s “worker-centred trade policy”. Meaningful workers participation is something that trade unions would like to see as an integral component of IPEF, not just in public consultations.”

  • Benjamin Alvero, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Center of United and Progressive Workers) and Trade Justice Pilipinas

“While online drivers suffer in their job, MSMEs face big competition, consumer data being profiling, the data service providers, applications, servers and others, who are outside national borders, get a big advantage from this business including through the commodification of the data they collected.  Data should not be required to reside within the country.  The company’s profits are taxed by country of origin.

If IPEF only looks at company profits, then we should stop trade and economic agreements that are inhumane and do not make the world a better place.”

  • Olisias Gultom, Sahita Institute

“Fisheries subsidies are fundamental for Indonesian small-scale fisheries because 70% cost of production of the fish capture is supported by fuel subsidy. This subsidy is vital to reduce poverty for their entire families. If IPEF restricts fisheries subsidies for small-scale fishers in developing countries, it will violate the rights of small-scale fishers. Thus we demand IPEF not to restrict subsidies for small-scale fisherfolks”

  • Marthin Hadiwinata, Ekomarin

“The race to secure critical minerals supply in IPEF’s Supply Chain pillar will only create the false solution of energy transition that pushing for more extraction of minerals exacerbating the ecology crisis. It is then questioned IPEF’s meaningful contribution to environmental protection in responding to the challenges of the climate crisis and sustainability. And, on the other side leaving the people of Indonesia and other IPEF’s developing country members trapped in the middle of the conflict without any clarity on the protection of human rights and environment, including the remedial action, for the people on the ground.”

  • Rachmi Hertanti, Transnational Institute

“If the Biden administration is to succeed in its stated goal of charting a new course for global trade policy, then IPEF must build from the floor established by the USMCA. IPEF must include ambitious environmental standards and strong labor rights commitments, and abandon the Big Tech-friendly digital trade rules from the USMCA that undermine consumer privacy, threaten competition policy, and enable racially biased or other discriminatory AI, source code and algorithms.”

  • Melanie Foley, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Other speakers at today’s event include Lutfiyah Hanim, Third World Network; Rahmat Maulana Sidik, Indonesia for Global Justice; Arieska Kurniawaty, Solidaritas Perempuan; and Hien Nguyen Thi, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

The IPEF Cooperation was initiated by the United States in September 2022 as a new model of inter-regional free trade agreements involving 13 other partner countries, including Indonesia. IPEF aims to expand US economic leadership and strengthen its economic dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. The US government targets the completion of negotiations this year to coincide with the APEC Summit which will be held in San Francisco in November 2023.

There are four pillars negotiated in IPEF: (1) trade pillar; (2) supply chain pillars; (3) pillars of clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure; and (4) taxation and anti-corruption pillars. The US is tabling provisions in each of these pillars that are likely to export US regulatory standards, and this will have an impact on changes in various domestic regulations, especially in developing countries of IPEF partners. The negotiations have occurred in secret prompting widespread criticism.

To connect with any of these experts, contact:  +62895610769872

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