The TPPA and this election


In Tokyo on 21 and 22 September, two days before the election, MFAT officials will argue the National Government’s position that the remaining eleven countries should proceed with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement unchanged. Unlike Australia, there is no constitutional constraint on the government to refrain from controversial decisions during the election period. It is more a matter of convention, and acting in good faith, but that’s too much to expect from a TPPA-obsessed National government.

The Japanese government is the de facto conduit for information about these secretive TPPA-11 meetings. That lets the National government refuse to tell anything to anyone – including the opposition parties that might form the new government.

As I reported in my last blog, we know they agreed at the last meeting in Sydney that parts of the original agreement could be suspended, unless and until the US re-joins. So far they have only agreed to suspend some intellectual property provisions on medicines. All eleven countries, including NZ, are supposed to have tabled their wish-lists before the Tokyo meeting.

Japanese reports say there are now about 60 proposals for ‘freezing’ the text. Some countries, especially Vietnam, are also likely to want to suspend whole chapters. Vietnam and probably Malaysia are also likely to go further than the others have agreed and seek changes to parts of the text and their schedules.

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It’s theoretically possible that National could tell the other parties in Tokyo this week that it wants to freeze that single entry in New Zealand’s investment schedule. But it would gall National to do so, and they would have done it earlier if they were prepared to. Japan, New Zealand and Australia have said no schedules can be re-opened. If New Zealand seeks to do so, other countries will want to as well. That would not be limited to schedules on investment. It could extend to services, government procurement, state-owned enterprises, goods and agriculture. In other words, it could lead to a serious re-opening of the deal, which might never conclude. National would rather put the pressure and blame on Labour.

It also remains to be seen whether the other ten governments will want to progress the negotiations, knowing New Zealand might not be able to deliver.  It’s obvious they aren’t going to settle those 60 proposals in two days and will have to meet again in October. That’s after our election and depending on the outcome the meeting could well be held in New Zealand.

These meetings only involve officials acting under political instructions. They are scripting options for trade ministers to decide and political leaders to affirm at the Apec meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam in early November. New Zealand’s position will fall to the new trade minister and PM in the next government.

That makes it imperative after the election to keep the pressure on a Labour-led government and their coalition partners not to sell out their constituents and the country. They also need to realise that some of their other policies, such as water charges, may fall foul of the TPPA and other agreements, especially the right of foreign investors to sue under the controversial investor-state dispute mechanism.

The most important first step is get the government to adopt a moratorium on future negotiations until it conducts a full open review of the implications of these agreements, including the risks of investor-state disputes. But that will only happen if ‘we the people’ force them to do so.


      • ‘The most important first step is get the government to adopt a moratorium on future negotiations until it conducts a full open review of the implications of these agreements, including the risks of investor-state disputes. But that will only happen if ‘we the people’ force them to do so.’

        Yes we agree – TPPA will strangle ouur county and Government powers to change anything in our favour if it is passed and another recession comes our way as predicted, and this TPPA issue should be mentioned tonight at the Climate change conference in Auckland.

        The Climate Debate Tues 7pm

        Written By: NOTICES AND FEATURES – Date published:7:38 pm, September 18th, 2017 – No comments
        Categories: climate change, disaster, election 2017, Environment, greens, labour, maori party, national, nz first, sustainability, TOPS – Tags: climate debate, WWF
        The Climate Debate organised by the WWF.
        We know it’s 100% possible to unlock a safe climate future for all New Zealanders. Climate action is bigger than politics – but it’s election season right now. Will political parties come together to set a course for a 100% renewable energy, zero carbon future? Or will climate action remain a political football?
        WWF-New Zealand’s Climate Debate is your chance to find out.
        • What: This election’s big climate debate.
        • When: 7pm on 19 September
        • Where: AMRF Auditorium (Lecture Theatre 1) in the University of Auckland Grafton Campus, 85 Park Rd, Grafton, Auckland
        • Who: Megan Woods (Labour), James Shaw (Greens), Carrie Stoddart-Smith(Māori Party), Denis O’Rourke (NZ First), Damien Light (United Future), Teresa Moore (TOP), and a speaker TBC from National – all MCed by business journalist Rod Oram
        Brought to you in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland, the Debate is your chance to learn about the parties’ climate policies – and ask your political representatives the questions that matter to you. We already have an exciting mixture of speakers from almost all of New Zealand’s key political parties coming along, just days before the election.
        Business journalist Rod Oram will be your MC on the night, asking all the candidates the questions that matter for Aotearoa’s climate future.
        Livestream here.

    • Because free trade is good, and we want to be able to buy overpriced, disposable electronics and other designer landfill, so who cares if we have to sell grandma or a kidney for the privilege?

      Serious answer, just look at who:
      a) owns most of the mass media
      b) advertises in most of the mass media

      I think there is a huge danger too that people who don’t know better will start loudly supporting corporate control treaties (“free trade agreements”) because Trump opposed one, and thus fall for the propaganda that supporting global free flow of people is the same thing as supporting global free flow of capital and ownership of key public infrastructure. When people ask me what I think about “globalization”, I always ask them “globalization of what?”.

  1. Reading between the lines I suspect Prof Kelseys preferred electoral outcome would be for a Labour /Green govt which would press for some renegotiation .This would in turn allow other countries to renegotiate their positions over numerous chapters and in effect scuttle the deal with impractically long renegotiations .Nice .

    So it seems politically if we want to stop TPP we should not do anything to undermine the Labour vote . The original deal took six years to complete , and National who wish to proceed with virtually no new negotiations must be getting worried it will unravel under a Labour Govt.

    She also raises the valid point about ISDS provisions and the right for foreign companies to sue for loss of profit if their contracts , licences and permits are cancelled or substantially varied by a more progressive Government.

    A 10c levy on bottled export water could raise 3.2 billion dollars of extra Govt revenue per year . But if the TPPA comes into force before we place that levy then ,the placing a levy after TPPA would constitute a breach of contract/licence/permit to foreign owned water bottling plants who could then sue us in ISDS offshore business courts for their loss of profit .That is the annual water levy .

    In effect we may not be able to raise that revenue by way of a royalty on Water or may not wish to impose one to avoid the risk of long and expensive legal battle . So these large companies could be getting our water for free for up to 35 years contributing nothing to our economy.Great .

    TPPA has been surprisingly under the radar this election , and may be now we know why …..

    Im picking smart people will vote Labour for their electorate vote and Green for their party vote ,as the Greens are fully against the TPP.

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