The latest round of negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are continuing in Auckland today, and while the deal has been met with opposition by some protest groups, Prime Minister John Key is urging the public to not pay attention to them.
“The people that are opposed sometimes are just opposed to free trade and they live in a world that doesn’t want to see New Zealand intersecting globally with the rest of the world,” says Mr Key. “They’re entitled to their view but in my view they’re wrong… I think people should ignore them."
The business community has written an open letter to the Prime Minister expressing support for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations taking place in Auckland this week.
Business leaders say the deal to free up trade between 11 countries will help to build a more prosperous and sustainable region.
“Trade is so important to New Zealand, trade and foreign investment,” says Sir Graeme Harrison, chairman of the New Zealand International Business Forum and one of the signatories.
Sir Graeme disagrees with critics of the TPP who believe New Zealand will lose out to the United States in negotiations.
“The real purpose of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was to come up with a comprehensive quality agreement that will provide the platform for a wider Asia-Pacific agreement,” he says. “This is not necessarily about the United States.”
Prime Minister John Key also says criticism of the closed-door negotiations is unjustified as any deal will need to go through normal Parliamentary process, including public consultation, before it is approved.
“Ultimately the deal will, if one can be completed, will be in the public,” he says.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says leaked drafts of the US negotiating position show it is demanding aggressive intellectual property provisions that would roll back public health safeguards in favour of enhanced patent and data protection.
That would make it harder to gain access to generic drugs, MSF says.
The Green Party has voiced the same fears, saying the Government's drug buying agency Pharmac won't be able to buy medicines at affordable prices.
The Government says the public health service isn't up for negotiation and Pharmac won't be affected, but ministers acknowledge there are "sensitive issues" that still have to be addressed.
Negotiations began in 2007, aiming to expand the existing free trade agreement between Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei to include the United States, Australia, Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, Malaysia and Canada.
3 News / NZN