The past years have seen the collapse of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations principally brought by the strong resistance of people’s movements against intensified neoliberal attacks. In a bid to overcome the WTO deadlock, monopoly capital has instead diverted its focus on bilateral and regional Free Trade and Investment Agreements (FTAs) that aim to dismantle existing labor, environmental, health and financial laws while boosting corporate profit and control. The widespread proliferation of FTAs in the past decade has however resulted in decentralized neoliberal attacks in the different global regions that effectively undercut workers rights and displaced peasant communities and national minority groups from their lands.
This new strategy is increasingly being felt across Asia Pacific with the recently concluded TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) led by the United States and the Chinese-led RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership). Both agreements if passed, will threaten people’s rights in the region. These two trade agreements also reveal the escalating rivalry and competing interests of US and China in the Asia Pacific. However, it must be made clear that neither the RCEP nor TPPA will address the long-standing demand for a global trade and economic order that responds to people’s needs, not to corporate elites.