Just let it die. Let the TPPA die. Not a dignified death, because it doesn’t deserve that. But at least let the corpse be buried in some deep hole, wrapped in the American flag, without the threat of being disinterred and shrouded in some surrogate garb.

Of course, Team TPPA isn’t about to let that happen. Their latest scheme is to bring the zombie agreement back to life, rebranded as the ‘TPP-5’. Only three of the five reported participants have been clearly identified. You guessed it – New Zealand, Australia and Japan. The other possibilities being mentioned are Singapore and Brunei Darussalam. Aside from Japan, this is hardly the big league.

That seems to be the main outcome from this week’s two-day meeting of chief negotiators from the TPPA-11 (12 minus the US) in Toronto. The officials were tasked at the previous trade ministers’ meeting in Chile in March with devising a rescue plan for them to consider when they meet on the margins of APEC in Hanoi from 20-21 May.

The Toronto meeting was shrouded in secrecy, yet again. Even the Canadian media couldn’t find out the venue. There is no possible excuse to continue this obsession, except to avoid public scrutiny and political accountability. Their claim that they couldn’t openly negotiate the TPPA because it required sensitive trade-offs no longer applies. They are simple trying to work out how to rescue the political capital and public funds they have invested over seven years of TPPA negotiations.

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Reports of the meeting are confused and confusing, but it seems to have ended without any agreement. The most consistent story, emanating from Japan, suggest a majority of the TPPA-11 have reached the only tenable conclusion – there is no benefit to them from resurrecting a deal that was designed for and in effect by the US.

Some ASEAN countries seem wary that proceeding with the TPPA for the sake of it would send an unwelcome message to China, and restrict their new-found flexibility in the parallel negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) currently taking place in Manila. Vietnam has no interest in decimating its access to affordable medicines and smashing its SOEs, as the TPPA required, without access to the US garment market. Chile and Peru are not interested either. Canada and Mexico are preoccupied with the pending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

That leaves New Zealand, Australia and Japan. According to Japanese media, the gang of three, which they hope to expand to five, plans to go ahead with the existing text. They would have to strip out the US’s annexes and schedules and bilateral side letters, draft new provisions for entry into force, and probably give it a different name. But they would keep the toxic elements on pharmaceuticals, investment, state-owned enterprises, among other policy issues, which they agreed to only reluctantly because the US said they were non-negotiable red lines.

There can be no pretence of a compelling economic rationale for a TPPA-5 when the projected costs are weighed against the benefits. That is especially so for New Zealand. Their main rationale – securing a free trade agreement with the US through the only possible path of a multi-country negotiations – has been stripped away. The downsides of the deal are as toxic as they always were, with no prospect they will be justified by substantive economic gains in return.

For New Zealand and Australia, keeping the TPPA alive is purely ideological so they can keep the ‘wobbly bicycle’ of liberalisation agreements moving forward. Japan’s motives are more complex, as the original agreement was an instrument to force internal restructuring, a counter-force to China and a way of building the Japan US relationship by adopting US corporate rules.

There are two weeks to the Hanoi meeting – two weeks in which to send an unequivocal message to Trade Minister Todd McClay that there is no democratic mandate to commit New Zealand to a TPPA-5 or any other rescue remedy. The National government got the implementing legislation through Parliament on a single vote, against the background of unprecedented protests and a massive number of submissions opposing the original TPPA. It was rejected by the major opposition parties, including Labour.

New Zealand is heading into a general election. National may not be the government in a few months’ time. McClay needs to confess what he and National are up to, what he has been advised, and what he plans to do in two weeks’ time in Hanoi.

The opposition parties then need to get off the fence. They can no longer pretend that the TPPA is off the electoral agenda. If they don’t nip in the bud the TPPA-5 or any other hair-brained scheme now, they could inherit a mess to which the only ethical response is to do a Trump and withdraw New Zealand from the process or the outcome. Heaven forbid that we would invoke that precedent!

So, it’s time to stop this nonsense now, for the party faithful to get Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, Maori Party and Mana to make enough noise to make McClay back off, and for the voters to make it clear to all the political parties that support for a zombie TPPA is a vote breaker for them.


  1. It’s dead, Jane; we are a colony of the Chinese dictatorship now; are you in its pocket, that you keep going on about anything but the greatest clear and present danger to this “country”?

  2. Fully agree with you Jane,

    As these corporate zombies are just a front for the evil corrupted Corporations that need to have control over all NZ assets and resources for free as we see with water they want to come and rape all we have before we all wake up to what they are up to, they are the pure sight of global evil.

    “So, it’s time to stop this nonsense now, for the party faithful to get Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, Maori Party and Mana to make enough noise to make McClay back off, and for the voters to make it clear to all the political parties that support for a zombie TPPA is a vote breaker for them.”

  3. Yep, vote the Natz clowns out. End the TPPA and if the opposition wants votes, that is how to get it, by saying that the Natz are going to keep going with this TPPA white elephant no matter, what and if they get back into power, they will sign NZ to TPPA no questions asked.

    • You do remember that it was Labour who signed the trade deal with China don’t you?

      • BG- Indeed. This sort of thing is what people tend to forget.

        This is the reason I say it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the general destructive -to human wellbeing negative trends will continue. (because NZ- like other nations is enslaved to the private international moneylenders and THEY are behind these destructive trends. )

        The only true solution to NZ ‘s woes is debt cancellation and for a new Pro Human life entity to emerge (in place of the fraudulent entity that we call “government”) to print our own debt free currency.
        Imagine that. Life in NZ would be instantly transformed.

        Citizens are NOT responsible for the ludicrously astronomical “loans” that get taken out by “govt”. They are NOT used to benefit the people, otherwise we would all be thriving- not the reverse. We would ALL be thriving -instead of the uber-rich getting richer still, whilst life for average families ever deteriorates. It’s obvious.

        1)When something doesn’t make sense, it is because something very wrong is going on.
        It doesn’t make sense , that back in the 70’s families were thriving compared with now, so something has gone very WRONG.
        2) NZ physically has not changed. NZ is still a country of plenty of space, plenty of resources..enough for everybody to thrive, same as it was back then. (mass immigration problem put aside for now)

        Therefore NZ has clearly been subverted.
        We all know what the turning point was. Economic “Reforms” in the 80’s.
        The politicians who were pushing for it all benefitted financially.

        What a “coincidence”, for example, that Jenny Shipley, is now sitting at the very top of Genesis Electricity as Chairman of the Board, above a Strata of large-salary earners.
        Why? Does she need the money on top of her enormous ex-PM retirement package & benefits? That’s called GREED.

        Result- Power bills become unaffordable for citizens.

        Analogy -> a big fat parasite among slightly smaller ones, all sucking the lifeblood out of society’s workers.
        Now multiply this phenomenon multiple times -and there’s the reason NZers are struggling.
        Now we have ” CEO”s everywhere -who earn obscene over-the-top salaries, also above a strata of large-salary recipients. They are parasites also.
        This sort of thing never existed in the 70’s.
        Think about it: In real terms, are CEO’s a necessity to society? – Of course not.
        Now things have even gone so far as to turn former”charities” into business entities with a CEO (HUGE salary recipient ) on top(plus your Strata beneath) Can’t be called charities any longer really.
        Yes even charities have been infected with parasites.
        The economic “Reforms” were really about reversing the order, and introducing in a large swelling of Parasites into the system and suck the lifeblood out of NZ society.

        Maybe a bit off topic, but not really. Jane Kelsey -you are addressing what is really only an advanced stage of that original “Economic Reforms” programme ie it is an advanced symptom.
        Sure it’s hugely important, but you don’t hold the key to our salvation. The end of TPPA is certainly not going to be the end of our woes…

  4. Lets bury Zombie Economics once and for all, Key and his oligarch mates need to go and take a flying jump. New Zealand has been asset stripped and decimated over the last 30-40 years and they still want to stuff more garbage down our throats.

    They have trashed the economy and the environment, and filled our Government Departments and Corporations with bottom feeders and swamp dwellers ?

  5. Die, die die – you corrupt ‘so called’ free trade Agreement and take the Nats with you.

  6. Delia Ruhe: “Free trade negotiations are primarily meetings of lawyers representing the participating states and their investors for the purpose of seeing how many regulations that make life livable for the rest of us can be slashed. And if, after the deal is signed, an investor runs up against a regulation protecting workers or consumers or the environment, that investor can take the stubborn state to the WTO court (or the Investor-State Dispute Settement Tribunal in case of the TPPA) and the taxpayers of that state will have to cough up a settlement covering the lost profits of the complainant, plus the profits they could have made into the indefinite future, if it weren’t for that ‘outrageous’ regulation.”

    • Yes , its just getting ridiculous now. But we always knew these same old tired triers would be attempting another angle. They have too much power and capital to lose to not keep going.

      Its good Jane Kelsey has forewarned us. It will be a lot harder for National with us being a small country. So we can mobilize on National real fast. And then that leaves just two. Battle of attrition.

      I hope it does become an election issue , to be honest.

      I cant think of a better example of corporate greed and the manner in which this govt almost sold us down the river. In exactly the same sort of manner they have been treating our poor, our environment, and our working people for 9 years.

      This dead TTPA should be called the National party’s Swansong.

      And the extinct TTPA should be its epitaph.

  7. If the trade deals profit corporations (and lawyers) then let them carry the risks and costs.

    Governments – well, I innocently thought their task was to look after ALL their citizens, including small enterprises, workers, and dependents.

    Why are our governments negotiating on behalf of entities many times wealthier than our sad little GDP? Why aren’t they charging them hefty fees for the service? And further fees to prevent or offset the harms being done to hard-won rights as well as the environment?

    Time for a total rethink of ‘democratic process’ and ‘elected representatives’? We’re getting forked over under the present system, for sure.

  8. A 6000 page document written by Corporate Lawyers is not a Free Trade Agreement, that is false advertising to the NZ Public ?

  9. A 6000 page document written by Corporate Lawyers is not a Free Trade Agreement, that is false advertising to the NZ Public ?

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