The US is driving the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The demands it makes on behalf of its corporations have dominated the negotiations. US officials now chair many of the more controversial negotiating groups. The US has even bankrolled recent ministers’ and officials’ meetings in other countries.

Some people will know that the US House of Representatives has constitutional authority over trade agreements. That means US politicians can pick apart any deal, cherry-picking what they want, rejecting what they don’t, and demanding the negotiators go back for more.

There is an alternative known as Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority. If Congress grants the President Fast Track, Congress has to accept or reject the TPPA as a whole – but to get Fast Track, Obama would need to agree to a raft of conditions. Even with Fast Track, members of Congress could still upset the final vote once it hits the floor of the House. Two weeks ago the 23 Republican members of the crucial Ways and means committee of the House of Representatives said they would not let the TPPA go to a vote unless President has obtained Fast Track authority from them first.

What very few people know is that the US has another, extraordinary weapon that could blow the TPPA out of the water. It goes by the benign name of ‘certification’. Negotiators have been aware that it is lurking in the background. But few of them know how it operates, or how to neutralise its effects.

A new website, launched today, exposes how ‘certification’ has been used by the US in recent years. It is a terrifying story.

Assume the twelve governments negotiating the TPPA reach what they believe is a final deal, after the US has turned the screws as far as it can. Then the Congress will turn the screws even tighter with the legislation to implement the TPPA, with or without Fast Track.

Certification cuts in after that. Congress will include, in either the Fast Track authorisation or the implementing legislation, a legal obligation on the President that says he cannot bring the TPPA into force with another party to the TPPA until that country satisfies what the US says are its obligations.

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The draft Fast Track legislation that was introduced to Congress several months ago already contains a provision that says:

CONSULTATIONS PRIOR TO ENTRY INTO FORCE – Prior to exchanging notes providing for the entry into force of a trade agreement, the United States Trade Representative shall consult closely and on a timely basis with Members of Congress and committees as specified in paragraph (1), and keep them fully apprised of the measures a trading partner has taken to comply with those provisions of the agreement that are to take effect on the date that the agreement enters into force.

The new website has identified what each of the 11 non-US countries in the negotiation might expect the US Congress to demand, based on letters they have issued and reports prepared by the USTR on the barriers it wants countries to remove.

For New Zealand that would be our copyright and patent laws, the foreign investment vetting regime, the procedures by which Pharmac operates, and Fonterra’s ‘anti-competitive monopoly’.

The formal certification process works like this. United States officials transmit the list of the changes they require to the other country’s domestic laws and regulations. Then they monitor compliance and maintain pressure on the other country’s government until the US is satisfied.

How this has played out in practice is a total outrage against sovereignty and the democratic process. US officials have become directly involved in drafting another country’s relevant laws and regulations to ensure they satisfy US demands. This includes reviewing, amending and approving proposed laws before they are presented to the other country’s legislature. The USTR even demanded that Guatemala implement new pharmaceutical laws that were not in the formal text, and which the government had strenuously resisted during the negotiations.

Most detail is known about the US Peru FTA, because the communications within the Office of the USTR were released under the US Freedom of Information Act. One internal email said: ‘We have to redraft the regs and the law – Peru needs to accept them without changes’. Another said, ‘if the Peruvians accept our language as we [USTR] propose it we still have the possibility of wrapping everything up the week of November 10. If the Peruvians try to negotiate then all bets are off’.

They were talking about a controversial legislative decree that Peru adopted to comply with USTR’s interpretations of the FTA’s requirements. That Forestry and Wildlife Law (LD 1090) had tragic consequences. On 5 June 2009 Peruvian security forces attacked several thousand indigenous Awajun and Wambis protestors, including many women and children; more than 30 people were killed in what became known as the Bagua massacre. They were blocking the highway to support demands for revoking the decrees that implemented the laws. Cables published by Wikileaks show warnings from the US four days before the massacre that Peru’s government was being too lenient and giving into indigenous pressures would have ‘implications’ for the FTA.

Comparable communications that would show the interference of the US in drafting New Zealand laws or regulations might never be released under New Zealand’s Official Information Act, because they involve information entrusted to the government in confidence from another government. In other words New Zealanders, including Members of Parliament, might never know the US was involved in writing our laws and demanding the right to sign them off even before Parliament gets to see them.


  1. Through out history empires have risen only to eventually fall. It seems to me we are now witnessing the fall of the US empire, so why on earth should we kowtow to their desperate struggle to maintain world supremacy?
    If there’s any genuflection to be done it should be to Professor Kelsey, Wikileaks, and others commentators who are keeping us informed of the “evil empire’s” nefarious plans.

    • jane kelsey for PM ! ! but seriously this is such bad news. AotearoaNZ will be a cot case if what you say above comes to pass. Question; will the new government after 20th Sept. take steps to publically notify their voters of the TPP details?? If it was clear to voters now,today, what might happen, surely there would be an uprising against the status quo.

    • Putin’s leadership is one our leaders should emulate. This country is so broken only a strong leader will be able to pull it together.

  2. Jeeeeeesus Christ ! And you know what the dirty bastards will want from us don’t you ? Our entire fucking country ! The piddling few agricultural products we produce would disappear into one smaller US city so they could care less for our ‘ Trade ‘ . They would love to get their hands on a beautiful country like NZ , the size of the UK but with a scant few 4.2 million people to subjugate , bully , overwhelm and perhaps even , as in Peru , murder though .
    And now what ? Is that why jonky’s looking so haggered for such a rich little man . He’s having his strings Yanked ?
    And while I write I see TV 3 is reporting on pregnant pandas .
    Thank you Professor Jane Kelsey .

    • What the US corporate masters certainly don’t want is a small country operating nuclear-free, GE-free, low-carbon, free public education, public health system. That would set a very bad example.

        • Yeah! And it’s none of the yanks business what we do in our own country. It’s OUR country, not theirs!!!

          IMP are going to pull out of the TPPA. I wish Labour would announce that too – and the Greens. And I wish National Party and FJK would just drop off the face of the planet!

    • As an American-born New Zealander I find your anti-Americanism absolutely repugnant. There is a deep strain of this sentiment on the left of NZ politics which makes me wary of any left-leaning parties.

      The US is trying to negotiate the best trade deal it can get for its economy. As the largest economy in the world it has a strong bargaining position and makes more demands than most. That’s to be expected. We would expect our government to negotiate the best deal possible for NZ. No NZ government is going to surrender Fonterra or Pharmac to get a deal that would not give that much benefit to us.

      The US isn’t using military invasion to force nations to sign these deals, they weigh up the benefits for their economies and decide whether the compromises are worth it. Our economy is much stronger than Peru’s so we are in more of a position to just refuse, especially thanks to our free trade deal with China.

      • ….. newkiwi ….. b4 thinking this is about the best deal for NZers …… Read the leaked texts on wiki leaks. TPPA and TISA threaten the sovereignty of the people and future governments, to create laws to protect the health and well-being of each people within the participating nations. This lasts for 100 years or more and affect all of our children and theirs. Read them.

      • Sorry chap…if you feel that way…personally..I havent got a problem with USA…at all! – most Americans Ive ever met were great folk…but…read Sun Szu’s art of war…there are many ways to take over power of others countries quite apart from the crudities of actual warfare.

        And , as a small consolation…IMO , China is guilty of doing the same sort of thing with its foreign economic policies , in places like Africa, the Pacific…

        What Im getting at is this is not an attack on the ordinary American people , rather alarm at the large corporate interests that are driving this thing and which have huge influence in USA politics. Its that that is the problem.

        So do please take heart ,mate.

        • Yes. It’s called bribery and corruption, and it just happens to be coming from the USA.

          The USA wealthy who are worshiping money ahead of everything else, are the real culprits. They are the ones to blame for all the trouble, ‘bought’ about by their own personal greed.

          Well, the USA can stick their money back in their pocket, and keep it well away from my country.

          I don’t have any special respect for the USA, and why would I? I’m a Kiwi, living in NZ. The Americans mean nothing to me at all, and if Americans don’t like our politics or want to winge about our country, then what are they doing here. They could always go back to America and help them continue to mess up their own country – if they are allowed back!

          Bl**** Americans, think they can tell the rest of the world what and how to be.


          • I’m not some American whinging about “your” country. This is my country too. I pay my taxes here, I grew into adulthood here, I will live here the rest of my life and I deeply resent being told I can never have a say in politics and the way my country is governed just because I wasn’t born here. I imagine you don’t tell American-born Greens MP Julie-Anne Genter to go home and stop having a say in NZ politics, because she supports left-wing positions. Well I won’t be told I’m any less Kiwi because I happen to support the views of a party which wins a hell of a lot more votes than Labour or the Greens.

            And by the way I’m no fan of the US government either. The electoral system there is basically legalised corruption on a massive scale. NZ has a vastly superior political system and I’m more than happy to be here taking part in it rather than living in America’s fake democracy.

      • With John Key as Prime Minister we won’t even get the right to refuse.

        Here in NZ we treat the American Government with the respect we feel they deserve. Maybe you don’t see it because you live on “Planet Key”.

      • by “largest economy” you mean they print the most money right? Please go back to the US if you don’t like hearing New Zealanders fight for their rights. Moron

        • The political left is supposed to be the side that stands up for tolerance and inclusiveness. If you cannot see how offensive it is to tell an immigrant to “go home” then I don’t know what to say to you.

          I was born in the US but this is my home now, I am a New Zealander and I’m not planning to go anywhere. Your response above is just as close-minded as conservative Republicans telling their opponents over the Iraq War that if they didn’t support America they should get out.

          Now by largest economy I mean the indisputable fact that the US has the largest GDP in the world and with a huge lead regardless of any printing of money. I had the largest economy before quantitative easing and will still have it afterwards.

          Now if you wish to debate the point further please try to do it without resorting to insults to my intelligence or bigoted statements on my ethnic origin.

            • I was responding directly to the claim the US is the world’s biggest economy only because it prints money. It is pertinent because the whole point of my argument is that the US acts the way it does because it has the power of that sizable economy to bully other nations with. I was not saying that makes it any better a nation than other, in fact it most certainly is not, falling very low in the rankings on many more important factors like education and life expectancy.

          • New Kiwi,
            I quite agree there’s no need for insulting remarks, “Wild Katipo” expressed my sentiments extremely well, but, if you do agree with the way the TPPA talks are being conducting, I feel you should answer the query “Durango” raised…
            “Why is it secret even from Congress then?”
            This doesn’t seem to be a democratic way of passing laws in “the land of the free”.

          • I[t] had the largest economy before quantitative easing and will still have it afterwards.

            For another few years and then China will over take it.

            Of course, having a large economy as measured in money is, essentially, meaningless. The Real Economy has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the resources a country has, how those resources are used by that country to improve it’s peoples living standards. The Monetary Economy is only concerned with enriching a few people at everyone else’s expense.

      • As the largest economy in the world it has a strong bargaining position and makes more demands than most. That’s to be expected. We would expect our government to negotiate the best deal possible for NZ.

        Yes we would expect our government to negotiate the best deal and that should include No Deal if there are no advantages to NZ in the deal. It looks very much as if NZ will not get any benefit from the TPPA – mostly because of the US insistence on writing our laws.

        No NZ government is going to surrender Fonterra or Pharmac to get a deal that would not give that much benefit to us.

        I’m pretty sure that the present government would.

        The US isn’t using military invasion to force nations to sign these deals

        No, they appear to be using corruption of the other nations politicians and political system instead.

  3. The TPPA, and its European equivalent, are perhaps G W Bush’s final triumph. He managed to destroy multilateralism in many domains. Only the US has the power and the means to negotiate treaties with every other nation on earth. They will necessarily be leonine in nature, and guess who gets the lion’s share…
    Obama is a multilateralist on paper, but he’s a paper tiger.

  4. This is ridiculous. How can a country possibly agree to this? Changing our laws to suit the US is surely treason or similar. This needs to be stopped. Why don’t all of the other countries tell the US to get fucked and then just deal with each other. There is no way that the benefits outweigh the changes being requested

    • The reason being is that these Multi Nationals are way ahead of you and have their people in place where they want the deals done. Hence John Key, he is their boy “Down Under” pulling all the strings together ready to hand them over. “Taking Peoples Power Away” will be legal and ain’t nothing you can do about it.

    • Thank you Professor Jane, I wonder why the MSM are keeping this secret.

      Now we know why so many of the farming community are promoting the National Party hoardings, they need the TPPA to trade freely with their dairy and meat products in the US.

      To hell with the rest of us.

      I see today that the Okoroire Hotel, hot springs and golf course have this week been purchased by another overseas buyer.

      If these sales continue, we will very soon find out what it will be like to be serf’s in our own country.

      • OH , stop grizzling , Baldric …and please pass the only slightly –
        grimed- in – sack frock for me to wear while I dig these plague pits deeper, thank you…

      • If these sales continue, we will very soon find out what it will be like to be serf’s in our own country.

        The increasing poverty in NZ over the last 30 years indicates that a growing number of us already know.

  5. John Ralston Saul: “The very fact that anybody could believe that a democratic society could be led by economics, by self-interest, by definition demotes the citizen and their civilisation to little more than decoration.

    What that means in practical terms is that since 1945 we put in place around the world we put in place in the international arena, dozens and dozens of international treaties, hundreds of international treaties – but the only ones which are really binding are the economic treaties. 

We’ve taken the economic power out of the nation and put it at the international level. And we’ve left all the other powers, the binding powers, inside the nations, which means we’ve put all the other, non-economic powers at a severe disadvantage.”

  6. @ NEWKIWI . You really will have to do better than that . Surely that’s not your best effort ?
    Has it ever occurred to you that the Left you make mention of may , in fact , be correct ? ( I nearly said Right . Wouldn’t that have been an oxymoron ? )
    I assume you were railing against my cursed right to an opinion . God help me if I exercise my freedom to speak . Oh , the ironies keep coming thick and fast . Hahaha !
    I don’t dislike American people per se , although , from the looks of American TV , they do their best to convince me otherwise .
    I don’t like your fucking politics . You’re aggressive , devious , sneaky and if push comes to shove , you just fuck other peoples shit up to get what you want , which is usually that which didn’t belong to you in the first place , by hey ! That’s business right ? Which is my point , in case you missed it dummy .
    Your Corporate psychopaths are trying to own the planet . Have you not noticed that ? Did that not spring to mind when you sacked Iraq then gave the oil extraction rights to Halliburton , a company that was headed up by Gee Gaw Bushes right hand Satans cock sucker Big Donny Rumsfeld . Do you not think people can see through that shit ? Jeeeesus man . I mean to say .
    And now you go all Big Blinky Eyed and shocked and awed because some , including me , think American Corporations are complete and total cunts who’d whore their grannies out for a dollar . Harvard pumps out soulless lawyers highly trained in the dark arts of head fuckery and the TPPA is a triumph of that skulduggery . The ‘ certification ‘ angle is just another bloody attempt to get that which belongs to others . And for no other reason than it makes you feel all big and important . I mean really . Have a cup of tea . Adopt a kitten .

    • I’m not sure how seriously to take your expletive-laden rant, but I will respond nonetheless. You keep saying “you” as though it’s my fault the US has pursued a policy you disagree with. I haven’t lived in the US since I was a kid and I’m no fan of Bush or Obama. I would assume you wouldn’t like it if somebody blamed “you” for the decisions of the National government. I strongly opposed the Iraq War when it happened (and by the way it was Vice-President Cheney who had headed up Halliburton, not Rumsfeld) and there are plenty of other historical US foreign policy decisions I think were wrong.

      However I don’t think the US is acting that differently in its trade negotiations than any other nation with a massive economy would. The US is free to demand whatever it wants and it is our government’s right to tell them where to stick their offer if it doesn’t suit our needs. Your suggestion that the US is looking to possess NZ like some kind of colony was way over the top. It was that hyperbole I objected to most.

      How exactly you think I’m attacking your free speech is beyond me. I disagreed with your position, I didn’t say you should suffer some kind of penalty for voicing it, I didn’t call for you to be banned or censored. Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you like short of inciting violence, it doesn’t mean I lose the right to disagree with you.

      • And we are free to voice our opinions without and American (how you described yourself) telling us we are wrong, we are right because it is our country first and foremost, if you think the American system is superior feel free to go home but if living in our country……..we rule, not America

        • Read my post again, I said I was an “American-born New Zealander,” not an American. Also please cite exactly where I said the US system of government was superior. As for going home, well guess what, I am home, this is my country too and I’m all the more proud of it because I didn’t just get placed here by luck of birth, I chose it and made a significant and lengthy effort to get here. So don’t tell me to get out of “your” country just because I disagree with you on this issue.

          • @NK:
            Why did you feel the need to say “American born” when you could have simply not said that. Do you think it makes you more special by saying “American born” – well it doesn’t you know – not in NZ. In NZ it is more special to be a Kiwi.

            The Americans are causing their own demise in popularity all around NZ, and it serves them right.


            • I said I was American-born because I was specifically responding to what I saw as Anti-Americanism, something I have personally experienced more than a few times since immigrating and nearly always at the hands of someone with left-wing views. Of course I wouldn’t expect ‘special’ treatment for being American-born. I never, ever even suggested that being American makes one superior. You are letting your bigoted views of Americans colour your perceptions and make you see things that aren’t there.

  7. Jane . I have read of “transparency” ,is that in fact ‘CERTIFICATION’ ?
    The result is the same .
    This needs to be made very public BEFORE the election !
    With John Key’s unabashed American sycophancy we are in grave danger of being sold out !

  8. God I hope everyone is finally waking up to what is happening around the world.

    the Article Agenda 21- The United Nations plan for a Global Fascist Dictatorship. A businessman by the name of Maurice Strong has links to this, he is frontman for the Rothschild’s and Rockefellers, Maurice Strong is also a member of “Club of Rome” part of the Bilderberg Group.

    I think it is all linked, I believe John Key is their boy down under.

    • Margaret.

      I think you are correct, and glad to see others waking up to all this.
      All designed by the UN – under the code word “Charlemagne” (I think that’s how you spell it). Europe is already ‘in’, just waiting for the others. One World Order – coming to us all soon!


  9. Surely the TPPA breaches this:

    ” the protection of New Zealand from acts of espionage, sabotage, and subversion, whether or not they are directed from or intended to be committed within New Zealand:

    (b)the identification of foreign capabilities, intentions, or activities within or relating to New Zealand that impact on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being:

    (c)the protection of New Zealand from activities within or relating to New Zealand that—

    (i)are influenced by any foreign organisation or any foreign person; and
    (ii)are clandestine or deceptive, or threaten the safety of any person; and
    (iii)impact adversely on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being:

    (d)the prevention of any terrorist act and of any activity relating to the carrying out or facilitating of any terrorist act”


  10. Fascinating and scary stuff … if it is appropriate to comment here, I would be very interested in Professor Jane’s comments/confirmation that this has happened before and was the key driver in our unseemly haste in the 80’s to sell off or “privatise” our education, health and the myriad of other socially derived public services e.g. these services, being provided by our communities, were deemed “unfair” (or too socialist?) competition for the multinational corporations trading with us – also those corporations could not buy into and control the asset.


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