Dangers of Fast-tracking TPPA

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I hope this is the third-last blog I will write on the TPPA – the final one being its obituary. D-Day is expected to be a meeting of ministers from the 12 countries around 25 May, probably in Singapore. After that the window is expected to close on Obama’s chance to get it through in his term.

That means 6 weeks to intensify the pressure on Key, Groser and co not to sign a deal – and to send a message to future governments, including any led by Labour, that they can expect a repeat of this campaign if they try it again.

What do we need to focus on for the next six weeks? Some things are beyond our control – like whether Obama and Abe can agree on agriculture and autos when they meet in Washington at the end of this month. If they can’t we have more room to breathe.

But if Obama and Abe can agree on terms, then it’s all on. Groser will insist that he can get a bonanza for Fonterra. Of course, that is never going to happen but we can’t prove it until it’s too late.

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Don’t let him get away with that.

One way of stopping Groser is to ramp up the opposition to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) – the special rights for foreign investors to sue the government in shonky offshore tribunals.

Since my last blog praising NZ First’s  ‘Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill’ that says ‘never again’, Wikileaks has posted the almost-completed investment chapter dated 20 January 2015. It shows the government has not listened to New Zealanders who said loud and clear that we oppose ISDS.

Nor has it protected the New Zealand government’s right to regulate from being attacked by foreign investors and from rogue interpretations by investment arbitration tribunals, as promised.

There is no agreement on restricting capital flows in a financial crisis; the choice is between a weak exception and a meaningless one.

There are no effective exceptions for public policy areas like health, the environment or culture. Instead, the text recognises the right to regulate for those matters where the government’s action is consistent with the chapter!

Such flaws should be fatal to the deal, especially when American corporations are responsible for more disputes than investors from any other country.

We need to make sure they are fatal. The best way to send that message to the government – and Phil Goff and others who have supported similar investment rules in the past – is to make a submission to the select committee currently hearing the NZ Korea FTA opposing the investment chapter in that agreement and all others.

Go to itsourfuture.org.nz – the splash page gives you the basics and a standard from submission. Or you can read my lay person’s guide that compares the Korea Agreement and the leaked TPPA and write your own – and ask to speak to it before the committee.

Of course, that won’t change anything about the Korea deal because it’s already signed. Cabinet can ratify it irrespective of what the select committee says – not that it will say anything critical because the government controls it and apparently Korea said ‘no ISDS, no dairy’.

The second way to stop the deal is take Groser and Key at their word, awful as that may sound. Both are on record saying that New Zealand will not do a deal if Obama doesn’t have ‘fast track’ authority (the euphemism is Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) that would largely, but not completely, nobble Congress’s ability to rewrite the agreement. So have Japan, Canada, Chile and several others.

Tomorrow or Thursday a bill proposing fast track is expected to be dropped onto the floor of Congress. One that was proposed last year sunk. This one has taken months to negotiate. But Obama doesn’t have the numbers to get it passed, certainly in the House. He will be relying almost solely on Republican for votes, and won’t have enough.

Many Democrats are opposed to the TPPA because they are really angry about the secrecy, the failure of NAFTA, and mounting opposition to investor-state disputes. Other Democrats have been targeted by a massive anti-fast track campaign with Twitter storms, lots of protests and even a blimp following around the main Democrat due to co-sponsor the Bill. They are rightly worried about losing support from their core constituencies.

So why is Obama bringing the fast track bill to Congress? It’s the ‘demonstration’ effect. His team hopes this will act as a catalyst and give momentum to the talks with Japan, and that Groser and the rest of the ministers will fall for the Obama charm offensive and believe that he will get fast track in the end.

On Friday, there is a day of action in the US against Fast Track. Some are taking solidarity actions here, including delivering a letter to the US Consulate in Auckland. There will be some action directed to Groser in a week or two.

But for now the best solidarity action is to make sure you tell the government, via the select committee, ‘no foreign investor rights to sue ever again – not in the Korea FTA, the TPPA or anywhere.’

34 COMMENTS

  1. I see you have already framed any non agreement as a victory for your leftist scaremongering campaign. I very much doubt the government cares what a few thousand left wingers think about in terms of international trade. If the TPPA is not signed it will be because the negotiations could not come to agreement not because they were influenced by the likes of you.

    • Any non-agreement is actually a victory for common sense, but you wouldn’t know much about that, would you?

      • A sad little man whose political and economic philosophy is currently in vogue and doesn’t look likely to be upset anytime soon in NZ.

        • Speak for yourself, most people I discuss this with are very concerned about the TPPA, this includes a good cross section of NZ as I know many different types of people and do not limit myself

          • How many people marched against it a few weeks back? How many marched against plans a few years ago to mine in some conservation estates?

            • Gossy – ever tried googling much about TPPA ? ?
              Seems you are lacking in some basic education as your statements clearly show some discrepancies between reality and fiction regarding TPPA.

          • If you think anything will change significantly when Labour next gets control of the government benches you are sadly mistaken.

        • It would do you well to remember that for a good while, it was in vogue to state that the sun revolved around the earth, whose edges should not be sailed too close to for fear of falling off.

          I would rather consider what is logical, than what is fashionable. You seem to prefer otherwise.

        • Well John Armstrong article about no rain on John Key its a downpour suggests differently and Northland ex National
          supporters have left the dark side.
          It seems you are a very miserable depressed little person who believes he is never wrong,you don’t even check your facts you just skim and take the bits that suit.
          The thousands of voters in Northland,do you think John Key didn’t care about them ?
          If all Key cares about are national fans ,hes in for a big shock, hes supposed to care about all voters ,but we all know he dosnt care for anyone but himself and his American minders.so wait for it people, a little smart ass rejoinder,Are you sure you are not Todd Barclay another smart ass knowall.

        • Well John Armstrongs article about no rain on John Key, its a downpour suggests differently and Northland ex National
          supporters have left the dark side.
          It seems you are a very miserable depressed little person who believes he is never wrong,you don’t even check your facts you just skim and take the bits that suit.
          The thousands of voters in Northland,do you think John Key didn’t care about them ?
          If all Key cares about are national fans ,hes in for a big shock, hes supposed to care about all voters ,but we all know he dosnt care for anyone but himself and his American minders. Wait for it people, another little smart ass rejoinder,are you sure you are not Todd Barclay another smart ass knowall.

    • “By the likes of you”?!

      That’s a rather unfortunate comment, coming from someone of the likes of you.

      At least Prof Kelsey has the courtesy, courage, and confidence to put her real name to her comments.

    • Gosman, there are hundreds of thousands worldwide who oppose TPPA and for very good reasons. You sound like a corporate type person who would just love to take and take from countries and then when the people or the country feel their sovereignty has been trampled on, well they have no recourse because TPPA protects corporations, first and foremost.

      This is not about scaremongering, it is about protecting the rights of the people and the government and the environment from psychopathic and greedy mega-corporations who care less about anything but money
      mongering and raping countries for their gains. NATFA was an economic disaster and did much more damage worldwide than it did good. TPPA is just a continuation of a very bad agreement that should be canned as soon as more politicians grow a pair and develop some integrity and strength of will to turn down those corporations huge bank transfers to buy their votes. Get these corporations out of our govt. and our media ! !

    • Nasty natsy Gosman you are a very spiteful person , a bit like your dear leader, it all comes from the top ,don’t bother with a smart reply ,im going offline now .

    • You are partly correct. However not as far as the numbers concerned. This government is concerned with thousands and totally unconcerned with the mass of NZ citizens other than on polling day.
      Irrespective of ones economic persuasion the surrender of sovereignty to external bodies is inexplicable except where the supporter has a pecuniary interest that is not necessarily the same as that of the general populace.
      Oh I qualify that slavish devotion to dogma and / or stupidity may also be causal.

  2. Good post.

    It is scary, the culture of corporate welfare developing in this country and the arbitrary destruction of our resources ‘just because companies can’.

    The Campbell Live water story yesterday is a case in point. The bottling plant is taking NZ water away to be sold overseas while local farmers are seeing their crops fail due to drought. Under TPPA the government would be powerless to stop this type of scenario. Water is increasingly going to become more important and NZ is just allowing their resources to be plundered and not even for any real gain.

    Use your voice to petition government.

    Also Winston and the Maori party.

    The politicians are so stupid they are just a cog in the wheel. After Sky Sore, I wouldn’t trust the Nats to organise a piss up in a brewery. Let alone allow them to sign something this important which has ramifications to the absolute future of our country.

  3. As an update, pro-TPPA and pro-Fast track has just published a story about a rally on Capitol Hill of around 1500 people, entitled “The populists capture the Democratic Party” and leading with this paragraph: “It was another one of those rallies on Capitol Hill where lawmakers line up to take shots at the Obama administration. But this time the lawmakers were all Democrats. …”

    Later it notes “But Obama hasn’t really split the Democrats. They are almost unanimously opposed to him on trade. The upcoming battle over fast-tracking and the Trans-Pacific Partnership shows how dramatically the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted.”

    See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-populists-capture-the-democratic-party/2015/04/15/917fc7f0-e3ad-11e4-905f-cc896d379a32_story.html

  4. Thanks for the thorough report of most recent underhanded actions of this derelict government lucking out of control.

    We are very fortunate to have you in our lives Jane bless you go hard Jane.

    Apart form the sad little NatZy man interrupting we see though the dissipating cloud that key and his traitors put up to sell us out.

    History will record this PM as a worst liar and treasonous leader we ever had in this country.

    • Wow there is no end to the horrors of TPP,dont think Jane knew about this ,or did she ,im sure shes on to it,very smart lady.

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