War of words in TPP public perception battle
Mon, 03 Dec 2012 8:24a.m.
By Dylan Moran
Negotiators from 11 countries are meeting in Auckland this morning for the latest round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
There are hopes a deal to free up trade with countries like the United States, Canada, and Mexico could provide a significant boost to the New Zealand economy.
But there’s also a large amount of public unease – with a protest rally to be held when the next round of negotiations begin in Auckland this weekend.
That public wariness appears to be largely driven by a perceived secrecy around the negotiation process.
“Tim Groser and John Key are telling us ‘trust us’. Well
sorry, the track record of US free-trade deals shows that they are done in the
interests of US companies, not in the interests of other countries,” says TPP critic Jane Kelsey.
But political commentator Matthew Hooton claims the process is transparent.
“It’s not that secretive, there’s regular updates [which] get put up on all the websites of the countries involved, the foreign ministries and trade agencies of the countries involved,” he says.
Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman and Ms Kelsey both claim the TPP will form a legally-binding agreement which will impact on future Governments.
“The cabinet effectively can sign them off and make them
binding on us without us having any say about it. Parliament has very very
little role to play in this process,” says Ms Kelsey, but Mr Hooton disagrees.
“If, after time, we don’t like it we can always pull out so there’s no question of sovereignty," he says. "We remain sovereign.”
Mr Hooton says the TPP was originally conceived by New Zealand and Singapore and the country needs to pursue it.
“It’d be wonderful if this did happen. This has been New Zealand’s number-one foreign policy objective for nearly 20 years.”
Public perception is New Zealand is a pawn in the negotiations – the US wishes to see Pharmac’s control of the New Zealand drug industry loosened, and leaked cables by whistleblowing website Wikileaks appeared to show the re-writing of the Copyright Act as a key part of negotiations.
“It’s not about trade, it’s actually about constraining our
future decisions through pro-corporate and market lighthanded based rules,”
says Ms Kelsey.
“For us to get a deal that’s acceptable to us the United States is going to have to give up a lot of what is important to some of its politicians, mainly agricultural protectionism and agricultural subsidies,” he says.
Protesters plan to gather outside Sky City, where the talks are being held. Steven Parry, campaigner for itsourfuture.org.nz says the implications of a deal will be wide-reaching.
Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser has labelled opponents of the TPP "fools" who are trying to "wreck this agreement".
Despite the Government's assurances of the contrarty, Sanya Reid Smith of the Third World Network is worried the TPP will undermine Pharmac's ability to buy cheaper generic drugs.
“It could buy fewer medicines and subsidies,” she says. “Fewer medicines because it has to pay more per medicine for longer.”
The United States, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Canada and New Zealand will all be represented at today's talks.
3 News / RadioLIVE
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6/12/2012 11:06:49 a.m.
The question has to be asked and answered. Will this agreement have power over our current laws to change them? And perhaps also, How is this agreement going to promote jobs for our own people in N Z?
3/12/2012 4:37:01 p.m.
Thank you Greg, couldn't have said it better myself!
3/12/2012 2:47:15 p.m.
@Greg Lets SPELL it out plainly.Currently most NZ exports to the US are subject to US tariffs/quotas while most US exports to NZ have no tariffs/quotas.Under the TPP the US tariffs/quotas against NZ exports would be reduced and mostly eliminated, while the NZ tariffs (which are mostly 0) would remain pretty much unchanged.Take NZ carpet exports to the US (8% tariff). Take US exports of carpet to NZ, they have a 0% tariff - just one of many examples.This wont magically make the US buy NZ products, but its a step closer to it happening.The EU crisis and US print money crisis are seperate issues and ignoring the benefits of TPP is stuppidity.We have already gone through this same process with CER, and NZ and Aus have both increased trade under CER, and I expect the same to happen under TPP. It wont happen overnight, but over time more trade will happen. Since out trade barriers are already so low, of the TPP partners, NZ will actually benefit the most. Will it magically make NZ more competitive than China in labour rates? No, but we have that problem with or without the TPP.Our doors are already open for trade, and burying ones head in the sand in ostrich fashion wont stop countries exporting to NZ. TPP will reduce the tarriffs on NZ produce so make NZ exports more accessible for overseas markets.NZ exports also subject to quotas, like we can export only so many tonne of butter to the UK under our agreement going back to the rebuild after WWII. Fonterra looks to export the most high priced they can within the quota, including soft butter that stays soft even in the fridge. This lead to the EU jailing 11 Fonterra staff (for butter being not-butter) till the UK courts threw the case out. TPP would mean less quotas for NZ exports.Why is there 500,000+ kiwis living in Aus? Largely due to CER makes it easy for Kiwis to do this, and we also have a sizable number of Aussies living in NZ. Without CER people couldn't just hop over the ditch.
3/12/2012 12:15:29 p.m.
But Mike, Free trade doesnt exist, its a myth, all they are talking about is reduced tariffs. The point being NZ has nothing to gain with a U.S. free trade deal. What dont you understand. You can dress it up as much as you want, its going to cost us big time, likely we will be bankrupted by 2020. If the Euro doesnt collapse first.
3/12/2012 9:28:09 a.m.
There are crackpot idiots about promising end of the world corporate takeovers type garbage.Reality is TPP is like our existing CER, only bigger.Even under CER NZ has the right to sue Aus and Aus has the right to sue NZ for breach of CER, just that it takes a lot to take things that far. NZ sued Aus over our apple access which was blocked the Aus side, and won in court. What idiots want is for our trade to be blocked from other countries in a mis-guided idea that if everyone buries their head in the sand we will be better off. Can go to countries like Greece that have that attitude. NZ has about the most open access in the world, and TPP will give NZ more access than it restricts. We already follow WTO rules, and enforce against copyright enfringments or block them at our borders. Eg if a whole heap of knock-offs turned up, NZ customs will sieze and destroy them.Pharmac? If we currently import drugs from an unaurthorised seller making the drugs illegally, then those will be blocked more under TPP. If there is a drug manufactured legally under several names, we will still be able to import it under the alternate names. Take the closest we have in NZ, Fonterra has over 10 different brands they sell under, some are more expensive, some less. What we have is idiots claiming that TPP would force overseas to only buy Fonterras most expensive brand, or the reverse of for Pharmac. Reality is drug companies will still sell under several brand names, even with the TPP.Take Warners, the 15% tax rebate was actually a done deal before the 2008 election, ie Labour signed that up. The NZ actors guild, fronting for overseas interests, almost lost us the movie and Keys deal cost NZ very little extra and already seen almost $460 mil spent in NZ and over $100 mil in paye already collected.Just as Talent2 was signed up for in August 2008, under Labour for the ministry of Education.
3/12/2012 9:27:21 a.m.
Australia's free trade deal with the U.S. is going so wonderfully, they want to pull out of it. Anything done in secret means hidden agenda's that are likely to upset many. Its not a free trade deal, its a corporate take over of sovereignity. The U.S. will not sign away any of its tariffs. Congress just wouldnt be able to handle the loss of the welfare state of it primary production. If its so great then release the details.
3/12/2012 6:42:49 a.m.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is nothing less than a corporate-coup of world governance.
Only two of the TPP’s numerous chapters actually have anything to do with trade. The rest is about enforceable corporate rights & privileges, and constraints on government regulation.
Democracy is being subverted and sold out from under us. We now live in a corporatocracy. A system designed by the few for the few.
Neo-liberal free-market fundamentalism is the freedom of the few to exploit the many.
And we have the high priest for Prime Minister.
John Key has sold us out to the Hollywood big boys in the past. He sold our employment legislation to Warners; he sold *Skynet* laws to the RIAA.
And he's sold us out to more than just Hollywood. Self-regulation for Big Alcohol. Pokies for Sky City.
John Key doesn't care about New Zealand. He doesn't care about the little guy. If you're not a big multi-national, he just doesn't care.
John Key is a neo-liberal global-corporate stooge, representing the interests of multi-national corporations, installed in the NZ political machine to sell our sovereignty down the river.
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