Labour risks being bulldozed on TPPA-11, ignoring own view that the deal lacks merit
‘There is an imminent risk that trade ministry officials and the agriculture lobby will bulldoze of the new Labour-led government into taking a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) this week and foreclose the fundamental rethink of the agreement that it previously said was essential’, warns Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.
‘The government needs keep that space open at the meeting of TPPA-11 officials today and tomorrow in Tokyo, which will set the agenda for the APEC meeting in a week’s time’.
A year ago, the Labour opposition said in the select committee report that National’s TPPA ‘will have ramifications for generations of New Zealanders. For their sake, we should not so lightly enter into an agreement which may exacerbate long-term challenges for our economy, workforce, and society’.
Labour attacked the ‘wildly optimistic’ assumptions that underpinned the economic claims for the agreement as ‘not credible, nor are they a basis for any responsible government to proceed in signing a binding agreement with consequences as far reaching as the TPPA’.
It said a comprehensive review was needed on the impacts on jobs, income distribution and public health.
Yet the new trade minister David Parker is now telling the media “there are undoubted trade benefits in TPP11. They are obviously not nearly as significant as they were when the US was part of the deal but nonetheless a residue is still important, particularly into Japan.”
The Minister also seemed to suggest that Labour might resolve its only firm sticking point of restricting foreign buyers of residential housing without even re-opening the TPPA text.
‘Someone needs to ask the Minister how an agreement that lacked the necessary credibility for Labour to support its ratification, even when the US was still involved, has become a deal of “undoubted benefit” to New Zealand, after the US has quit’ Professor Kelsey said.
‘The minister and Prime Minister also need to reflect on the deep sense of betrayal such a position will create among those who expected it to keep its pre-election word’.