The TPPA is dead. What next?



There is a myth going around that President-elect Trump killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It is true that he has made withdrawing the US from negotiations his number one job when he gets into office, and without the US, the TPP is dead – it would need years of re-negotiation to resurrect it in any form. But the reality is that the TPPA was already on its last legs by the time Trump made his announcement. The TPPA was defeated by a powerful global campaign.

Citizens across each of the 12 countries in the TPPA built a strong movement against the excesses of corporate rights represented by the TPPA, as we have done twice before in defeating these proposals in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (1998) and in the World Trade Organisation (1999 and 2003).

Citizens mobilised on the streets, in meetings and on-line against the TPPA, around issues such as jobs and inequality, access to affordable medicines, public health, climate change, internet freedom, indigenous rights, animal welfare, small business and especially against the erosion of the sovereign powers of government to act in the public interest.

The TPPA was rejected by this huge public movement. It was the voice of citizens that was decisive. They influenced public opinion so that it was strongly against the TPPA in New Zealand as well as the US. Donald Trump recognised the strength of this public groundswell. The TPPA’s demise came long before his election.

What happens now is important. Defensive protectionism that raises tariffs against imports won’t help workers get their jobs back, and it won’t protect the environment and the other rights that are under threat from Trump’s policies.  There needs to be a process of re-regulation of the global economy, supporting local economies and requiring multinationals to pay their fair share of taxes, reversing the processes of deregulation and privatisation that has taken power away from democracy and handed it to corporations.

Hopefully there may be other casualties in the wake of the TPPA. The planned Ministerial meeting where they were close to concluding the dangerous Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) has been cancelled.

But the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is moving ahead, and recent analysis by citizens’ groups show that New Zealand and other countries are trying to stack it with TPPA-like provisions.

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We need to remain vigilant about RCEP, TiSA and other agreements. We also need to use this opportunity to fundamentally change New Zealand’s trade and investment policy so that it is transparent and accountable, good for small business and the local economy, protects the environment, promotes worker’s rights and equality, and respects human rights.

Below is my speech in Parliament marking the end of the TPPA:

Barry Coates is a Green Party list MP.


  1. We are not sure what comes next in the immediate future but we do know what comes next a little further down the track: more trade negotiations.

    And some time after more trade deals comes a largely uninhabitable Earth, since all international trade, whether organized through bilateral or multilateral agreements, is a major component of the system that is in the process of destroying the habitability of the Earth via the consumption of oil and the commensurate emissions of CO2 and other pollutants.

    Since governments consist of fuckwits and self-serving liars, the demise of one trade deal does not mean an end to the insanity that now characterizes modern governance; another trade deal will be negotiated, and then another, and then another….on and on until either the oil needed to operate the system becomes unobtainable or the Earth becomes so overheated ‘civilisation’ collapses. We are still not sure which of those inevitable outcomes will come first but the overheating by burning fossil fuels aspect is now looking extremely grim.

    Arctic ice cover is 4 standard deviations below average and is currently headed for 5 standard deviations below average:

    Undoubtedly the maniacs in control will view absence of ice in the Arctic region as an opportunity to increase shipping in the region and drill for oil in previously inaccessible locations.

    There is no hope for species the Homo sapiens now that cultural insanity has become normalized and celebrated.

    • I don’t get it, AFKTT.
      Your consistent position, post after post, is “we’re all doomed!”
      That’s fine, as far as it goes, but why bother to post, if all is lost?
      I can only surmise that your dream is that, as the red sun sets into an atmospheric inferno, the last human will study a century-old, dog-eared print out from a long-dead website and say:
      “I certainly wish I wasn’t the last human, because if there was anyone else left to tell, I would say:’ Look! Back in the golden age there was this guy, see…and he was so right!'”
      A victory lap, please for the Climate-Wraithe…

      • AFKTT is of course a bit “negative” in many if not most of his/her posts. But to be a realist, and see what really goes on, you need to be depressed and a critically thinking person.

        It is built into our genes and cells, that we as living animals are following a hormone driven will to survive. That keeps us fighting and feeling and thinking positive, that is most of us.

        But that stimulation by hormones and so, that also does stop us from seeing the real threats and dangers out there, as we as humans tend to think, we as smart, intelligent, capable top species of the pyramid of beings, are capable of almost anything.

        While thinking like that, we destroy the environment, kill species after species, keep polluting, keep manipulating nature to produce monoculture crops and animals that would not survive without us in the wild, so we have the products that keep us ever growing humans in higher numbers alive.

        We are in short stuffing up big, we have earthquake after earthquake, but in Japan they have reopened nuclear powerplants sitting on fault-lines.

        We continue pumping gases into the air, and ripping the guts out of the planet, and then one day, this will lead to a disaster.

        That is where I agree with AFKTT, as I see it in a very similar way. Even the religiously minded who wrote books like the bible realised, it takes a prophet to see what others do not see, such prophets used to be the more lone characters, the ones being more sombre, depressed perhaps, seeking seclusion and retirement into uninhabitated places, so they could see what really goes on.

        The common busy struggler, fighter and surviver never sees the shit come towards him or her, it is simply a certain mindset or state of mind, that enables few to realise the greater picture.

        I write this while every day I see most around me continue as if there is no threat at all, to climate, to resource availability, to fertile land, to water and through over population, they carry on like the blind, and they do not see what is coming.

      • Sorry if he upset you, but it appears that you don’t like his message, therefore he cannot be right. Unfortunately for people like you, he probably is right. You have not yet understood the depths of human folly.

        • Nick isn’t criticizing AFKTT’s assessment of the problem, but the firm belief that there are no realistic solutions. It’s counterproductive and irresponsible to communicate such deep and serious problems in such a fatalistic way. Because, when presented this way, the likely response from anyone to whom these problems are news is likely to be “so”? If there’s nothing we can do, there’s no point in even learning about the problem, let along making the often inconvenient (in the short term) changes required to mitigates the problems.

      • Perhaps read this:

        “Extinction Overview

        If you’re too busy to read the evidence presented below, here’s the bottom line: On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction (from Oliver Tickell’s 2008 synthesis in the Guardian). Tickell is taking a conservative approach, considering humans have not been present at 3.3 C or more above baseline (i.e., the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, commonly accepted as 1750). I cannot imagine a scenario involving a rapid rise in global-average temperature and also retention of habitat for humans. Neither can Australian climate scholar Clive Hamilton, based on his 17 June 2014 response to Andrew Revkin’s fantasy-based hopium. According to the World Bank’s 2012 report, “Turn down the heat: why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided” and an informed assessment of “BP Energy Outlook 2030” put together by Barry Saxifrage for the Vancouver Observer, our path leads directly to the 4 C mark.”

        But the ostriches love the warm sand, to stick their heads in, or do they do it perhaps, to keep their tiny brains cooler?

    • Why do governments negotiate trade deals? Traders make trade deals according to local or international law, and that has to be plenty strong enough to stymie the cockroaches in three piece suits and endless litigation.

      In my innocence, I thought governments were there to represent the nation’s people. ALL people – particularly the ones with shallow or no pockets. Collective strength to match corporate strength/wealth.

      Governments are, by their nature, short-lived entities, offering policies/sound laws (sometimes) and bribes or threats (most times). They are totally unsuited to negotiate anything, lacking will, skill, or a fuller mandate. Obsolete. Unsuited to the present circumstances.

      Too many people, who could never succeed in the environment of Big Business, playing wannabe and crawler.

      I’m glad the TPPA is near-death in this manifestation. Too few stood to gain – and the environment wasn’t one.

      Now, dear Greens, could you push ahead with the parliamentary reforms Rod Donald had in mind? Updated, of course. They’re long overdue.

    • You told me the world economy would collapse by 2013. If a few do know the truth, you’re not one of them.

    • I felt like I was on a bus in China today, very noisy, boisterous conversations and laughter in the back of the bus in Auckland here, ignoring all others sitting there quietly. Not a word of English was spoken, there is no need for it, as many only mix and mingle with their own likes now.

      Outside of Auckland few would understand what is slowly happening to this city that is growing into a vast metropolis that will become another failed big city one day.

      At the moment many migrants use every opportunity to leave their shores, as they consider NZ Inc a safe haven, while their nations will head into chaos. But they will do that first, NZ Inc will one day become as corrupt and bankrupt a nation like most the world already is.

      • There’s going to be a civil war (civil referring to the city of Auckland). I am an Aucklander by birth, I am multilingual, and am most definitely not a racist or xenophobe. Many of these so-called “migrants” actually regard themselves as, and are, in fact colonists for their own cultural agenda. For shame to the rest of No Zealand for abandoning Aucklanders to neo-colonialism, you will soon share our fate.

        • Oh do not upset our “liberal professionals in Auckland”, who enjoy their lattes served by willing migrant slave labour, and the middle class from Epsom, shopping at Pak’n Save in Royal Oak, who have most check out operators imported from the Philippines, India, Fiji and other places, offering willing labour for the minimum wage or just above it.

          As long as the better off urban liberals’ bags are filled, they could not care less, they love their status, their privilege and pretence, to be liberal and “fair” to all, but they forget that they create an explosive society, that will blow them out of orbit soon.

          Their love affair with a “liberal” Mr Key and neoliberal politics will lead to an ugly end to all, I am sure, I sense it in the air.

  2. well put Barry, I would add New Zealand regaining an independent foreign policy too so that mutually beneficial bilateral trade agreements can be entered into for goods AND services–imagine what some other countries could offer in times of natural disasters

    there used to be the non aligned group of nations during the cold war era and that may be worth exploring again too so that small nations are not forced into one or another major power’s orbit–USA, China, EU or BRICS

  3. Time to re-focus on our dying domestic economy. Restructure the economy,need to be less dependent on the global market and its booms & busts.
    Wack on tariffs on imports to all those products that we can make here, again! Manufacturing, Housing, construction products, clothing ect … can be done. Just need a government that wants to walk the talk instead of doing more talking ….

    • And to do that would mean to dampen down the F.I.R.E a bit.

      Which in turn would mean a lot of other things, such as you suggested.

      And along with that development of value added products instead of so much emphasis on raw materials export and also investment into hi end hi tech products .

      Get rid of Keys bullshit ‘ brighter future’ and plan a real future instead. Free from neo liberalism. In other words – a return to social democracy with an emphasis on an upgraded Keynesian economic model.

      That’d set the ball rolling.

      • Get rid of Key, change the treason laws and have him publicly executed (along with quite a few others on the list)

        • You’re either getting a bit over-excited, Castro, or are an agent provocateur. Calling for Key’s “public execution” should be seen for what it is, unhelpful and giving the left a bad rep.

          • What’s undemocratic about calling for a law change? I don’t think the “left” are really that left-wing at all; you like to use pictures and graphics of Castro, Mao, Lenin et al, but have no desire to emulate their achievements. Hypocrisy in the extreme.

  4. Anyone who thinks the forces behind the current TPPA agreement will just pack up and go home because Trump said” no way TPPA” is an idiot.

    Key is already talking about a TPPA without the States as he is totally hell bent on getting this agreement up and running without the yanks and the powerful backers behind this wont go quietly into the night, there is to much at stake and Key and that traitor Tim Groser have pushed this hard.

    The neo lib forces are powerful and will be back with TPPA part two.

  5. Bloody good comment’s all here, except for Nick who doesn’t get what???

    Shit some are so thick here as all anyone needs to do is go to the beach every year and see first hand the loss of all our coastal land to erosion and sea level rise, it is a sad sight as we all on the coast of NZ are loosing roughly a metre of beach front every year now and can be attributed to melt polar ice cap’s at both polar regions.

    Wake up Nick, or learn to breath under water.

  6. To be honest, the TPPA was vehemently opposed by a few thousand activists, and good on them, to take their actions and to voice their opposition. But the vast “silent majority” did not really care that much, as most seem to go along with what the majority approve or at least put up with.

    That has not changed. And that is why the NZ government carried on with passing TPPA legislation through Parliament, as if nothing had happened in the USA or anywhere else.

    The TPPA was a cornerstone of the government’s trade and foreign policy ambitions and goals, it has been knocked out of the structure of things, which should be at least highly embarrassing, but perhaps lead to some panic within the government.

    They may try and continue with a TPPA Light version, which necessitates renegotiations, but as Japanese PM Abe just announced in Argentina, without the US, the TPPA is pointless.

    So this is the time the government is highly vulnerable, and the opposition must use the new situation in Parliament next week, for the remainder of this year, and hammer away, at the government, for their failure and embarrassment.

    Their FTA ideology has been laid to rest, it seems, as Trump seems to make it his first action while in Office, to announce an notice of intent, to withdraw from the TPPA as it was signed.

    We should actually have more action happen at the WTO level, to create fairer trade for all nations and people, not favouring just the big corporations, and bigger nations, we need better rules to protect workers and citizens all over the globe. But then again, is this possible, given the failed project that is slowly falling to bits, and that is only still running due to continued massive use of fossil fuel energy.

    Next we will hear and see what Trump will do re the Paris Climate Agreement, and it does not look good there. As Fiji’s PM just said, if the US opts out, the whole climate change agenda, that is to slow or even stop the human input into the disaster, then it will not get us anywhere.

    The world is at a new crossroads, forget much of what used to be the rule for the last few decades, we are getting massive changes happen soon also in Europe, with elections in Italy, France and Germany, the EU is on the verge of breaking to pieces.

    We may have every one on their own again, fighting for survival of the fittest, in essence nothing has been solved, nothing much is improving, we are instead heading even faster to the abyss now. Welcome to the New World Order or Disorder.

  7. Are we entering some sort of post-ironic age? Trump — Trump! — the saviour of the anti-TPPA brigade (of which I am a member)? Barry Coates has a self-serving analysis of his own importance in dumping TPPA, but I would say the real credit now goes to The Don, loathsome and all that he may be.

    • You’re off-beam, Tom. Trump may’ve dumped the TPPA but his Republican neo-lib mates will comes up with something equally loathsome.

      Trump is already stacking his team with hard-right Republicans, alt-right, and One Percenters.

      • Take a deep breath and open your eyes, everyone on the left, to the fact that Trump has done more for the Left in just a few days than Hillary was going to do. Let’s just wait and see before we run around screaming worst case scenarios.
        If Trump can get détente with the Russians then that has to beat the bellicose Clintons rush to increase aggression.



    Unlike this phoney so called National Government here which is more set on disposing the country to a fire sale, the US Government under Republican will not do this but will put the US and her people first.

    This is why Clinton got a kick in the pants as she was embracing Obama’s same John Key policy of flogging off everything and flooding the country with unskilled cheap labour.

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