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Sunday, 21 August 2011

More on the TPP

There is a campaign afoot in the country at the moment asking the Government to withdraw from the TPP negotiations.   It has been printed on postcards for sending to Government members of Parliament and Ministers and asks that:

[the Government] put New Zealand's national interest at the heart of all trade and investment negotiations, rather than the interests of transnational corporations and the US government.  It states that:
The TPPA will among other things: undermine what little NZ has left in the way of nay controls of foreign investment; institutionalise the very same horrendous financial practices which led to                                                                                                                                                                         the global financial crisis; allow American corporations to sue the New Zealand                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         government in private international tribunals; attack Pharmac and drive up the cost of prescription medicines; make access to digital recordings more expensive and copying more restricted; attack our GE and tobacco controls and food labeling and food and appliance safety standards; and weaken our controls of food imports where they might carry disease.   The whole process is both secret and fundamentally undemocratic in the way in which it is being negotiated and then ratified by Executive decree.  

The New Zealand Herald newspaper in its editorial of February 22, 2011 describes such campaigns as scaremongering.   Its final paragraph is perhaps the most telling: 'Free trade agreements depend on honour, not enforcement.   That is all the more reason to reserve them for partners that want them, need them and can be trusted to keep them'.   Perhaps those using such a postcard campaign would agree - it's what is negotiated into the agreement which may not be honourable.

The editorial in the Dominion Post on July 23, 2011 sets out two of the issues in a more reasoned way i.e.: access to the US dairy market by our producers and the buying of drugs for the NZ health system by Pharmac.The Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser and indeed the Prime Minister have insisted that New Zealand will not sign up to anything that is not in the country's best interests and have signalled that Pharmac will be jealously guarded.   Perhaps New Zealanders would feel more comfortable about that if the negotiations were a little less secretive.

In a letter from the Office of Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade dated 15 August 2011, he writes in response  to receipt of one of the Red Cards:

In light of the high level of public interest in TPP, MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) is also looking at options for making more information available, including producing information papers on key issues and a regular column by TPP negotiators.   Officials will continue to undertake stakeholder consultation, and in the meantime regular updates on the progress of the negotiations will be provided on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's website http://www.mfat.govt.nz

Looks like the curtains are opening slightly.


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