Is the TPP the current equivalent of New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance? How did it become such a defining issue? And will its impact last?

Among all the controversy and welter of opinions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, I have been increasingly wondering, why has the TPP become the litmus test of progressivism in New Zealand?

It is not such a defining issue in other TPP nations; the debate seems particularly fevered in New Zealand.

Trade deals have always attracted opposition, but from the usual suspects; Jane Kelsey springs to mind. So when she opposed the China FTA, one could safely say she represented around 10 to 15% of New Zealanders. The Green Party could be reliably relied upon to vote against all trade deals. But fundamentally that was it. These views had no wider impact.

But TPP is different. Nearly half the Parliament is against it, though it's clear that Labour holds a few dissenters from the party line. They will buckle to party discipline because they know Labour's vote will not derail the agreement. The political divide is reflected in the wider community. Whatever the actual number, it is clear that a substantial number of New Zealanders either directly oppose the TPP or at least are uneasy about it.

For the Left it appears the TPP is one of the key determiners of whether you are a true believer or not. So it is much more than just the 10 or 15 % who always oppose trade agreements, it is seen as a test of whether you are on the right side of history.

Many Maori certainly see it this way. Thus the fact the TPP has a specific exclusion for the Treaty of Waitangi is irrelevant, since the TPP debate is not about its actual terms, it is about where you stand. There would not be a Maori academic who would be for TPP, it would be seen as tantamount to saying you did not support te tino rangatiratanga. Any Maori professionals who support TPP will not be in the Universities, they will be in business or the professions.

So is TPP the present day equivalent of New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance of the 1980’s?

The nuclear debate was the great ideological battle in Labour during the early 1980’s when Labour was still in opposition. It was not just about anti-nuclearism, it was where you stood in relation to ANZUS. Thus when Labour took office in 1984, the future of ANZUS was immediately in doubt, and within a year we were out, on the back of the “neither confirm or deny” policy of the US Navy.

The TPP debate does not have nearly the same clarity. After all it was Labour who strenuously worked to bring the US into the P4 trade negotiations. Four of the six of the Last Labour leaders including Helen Clark support New Zealand being in TPP, even if, as was argued by Brian Easton, it is only for the reason that the risk of being out is too great.

But for many on the left these kinds of finely nuanced arguments are irrelevant. You are either for TPP or against. It is why Labour has used the sovereignty argument as the basis of their opposition. Their message makers know that it has a powerful emotional hook. After all who would voluntarily sign away New Zealand’s sovereignty – only a fool or a knave.

The fact that 11 other nations have done so is seen as irrelevant. Well, it is really only the 10 nations apart from the United States, since it the United States corporates that are sucking away everyone else’s sovereignty. At least going by the blogs, the other ten nations have done so because there leaders have been corrupted or blackmailed by the United States. How this applies to the Vietnamese communists is a bit of a mystery.

But back to New Zealand. Will the TPP debate define the New Zealand political divide for decades? As yet that is unclear, but history may provide a guide. There are some issues where your position in opposition is irrelevant. Who now really recalls that National voted against the Supreme Court? In contrast National's position on the Iraq war is frequently raised as proof of wrong judgement and has tainted their decision in the recent deployment of trainers to Iraq.

I suspect Labour will not be able to easily say their stance on TPP is equivalent to National's stance on the Supreme Court; i.e just one of those things you do in opposition.

Too many on the Left have taken comfort from Labours' position on the TPP. Similarly business will have taken keen note of Labour's stance, and marked them down because of it. Of course Labour may be hoping this debate is a oncer.

When the TPP is in force, and all the terrible portents have been shown to be false, Labour will expect to not have to deal with the issue again. When the Regional Comprehensive Partnership happens (which includes China) it is hard to see it generating anything like the same hatred as TPP. Even Jane Kelsey may love it. Mind you, RCEP may be subsumed into TPP. But even if that happens, it simply will not be controversial.

If this is the case then the TPP debate will blow over. Much Ado about Nothing. Certainly many in the centre will be hoping that is the case.

But the TPP could also be the portent of a re-galvanised left, much as Jeremy Corbyn has been in the UK, or Bernie Sanders in the United States. Both have energised a new generation of left activists.

In that case it will be like the nuclear debate of the 1980’s, a defining event for political activism that lasted decades.


Comments (22)

by Nick R on February 05, 2016
Nick R

Wayne - it seems to be an article of faith for some supporters of the TPP that there are no good reasons to oppose it, and that those who do are either fools or malcontents.  But this leaves them with a problem: why has the TPP been such a hard sell, and why are so many people so angry about it?

I think that sooner or later, supporters will have to grapple with the possibility that sensible and informed members of the public may have good reasons for opposing the TPP, and actually start engaging with those.  Because nobody is doing that yet.

And in fact, Brian Easton's tepid support for the TPP is the only case that makes any sense to me.  The benefits are paltry.  1% on GDP a decade or more from now is margin of error stuff.  It is not going to transform the economy or the lives of the people protesting.  And you would have to be truly daft to believe that those benefits are going to be evenly distributed.  So the only real benefit is avoiding the costs and risks of being left out.  That's an impossible sell because it's a counter-factual that won't happen.

My 2 cents...


by Fentex on February 05, 2016

why has the TPP become the litmus test of progressivism in New Zealand?

It's the secrecy.

At a time people feel their lot is not improving a great deal while hearing of record corporate profits and greater and greater concentration of wealth (that seems to be driving the price of homes away from an average persons future) a deal negotiated in secret that does more than open trade - importing regulation and empowering corporate entities to challenge governments - is easily perceived as threatening.

Many do not trust it.

And lets face it few of us have the time and education to read substantial portions of it and make up our own minds, most peoples opinions will be in line with those they trust who give them an argument.

And a public not invited into the negotiations of the TPP has reason to question how it treats corporations who were allowed inside the curtain, who did participate in it's negotiations.

When told to shut up and trust their betters negotiation (which is barely paraphrasing Tim Groser) considerable trust is lost.

Secrecy and lack of trust breeds anger.

There was an effort to calm opposition by reporting on the TPP's promise of wealth, but ~1.5% GDP growth in 10+ years underwhelmed people and certainly doesn't sound like a good return if much is traded away.

So now we hear how we must participate for fear of punitive responses should we renege - which is funny because we (as in the New Zealand public) haven't done a damn thing to renege on.

Such real politik argument does not assuage anger but stokes it for being even more an insistence we are but peasants and puppets to be manipulated by other players of games.

Add that to the cause of those who already suspect capital owners of tugging influence along with wealth out from under everyone else and it's obvious why protests are heated.

This is a clear manifestation of labour protesting capital in the belief capital is capturing regulation.

Personally I don't think the TPP is of long term benefit to NZ as a trade agreement (because I think the regulation we accept harms us more than the access it grants).

I am sadly forced to consider it may be a bloc we must go along with for entirely other reasons.

by barry on February 05, 2016

The trade aspects of the bill are relatively inoffensive and, on balance, may even be positive for NZ.  It is the other aspects that are retrograde.

Why increase the length of Copyright?  It is already ridiculously long.  It makes sense for a person to benefit from their original work as long as they live and to let their descendants benefit for a generation (about 30 years).  Beyond that works should be freely available.  Extending copyright will be a cost to libraries and ordinary NZers.

The changes to laws around pharmaceuticals will cost us.  Maybe the government will not increase prescription charges, but the extra money will come from the health budget, and mean less service or higher taxes.

The changes around investment are most offensive. 

Foreign corporations have a privileged position. A NZ company can sue the government if they break the law, but so can a foreign corporation.  A foreign corporation has a second option where they can challenge the law itself.  This may help NZ companies in other countries, but in general it is only the biggest corporations that could afford to it.  None of the NZ based companies are big enough.

But really this agreement locks us into the current economic policy settings.  Those that like the settings most like the agreement.  Those that think change is necessary oppose it because it makes change harder.

To say it doesn't affect our sovereignty is very dishonest.

by KJT on February 06, 2016

Obviously you don't get out much these days, Wayne.

Strong opposition to the TPPA, and the Northern Hemisphere equivalent, the TTIP, has been strong in all countries. Even Vietnam. Huge demonstrations in Europe, against the TTIP have been barely reported here.

Even a prominent supporter of TPPA said that it had to be secret. Otherwise everyone would rise up against it.

Of course, contempt for Democracy is par for the course for the party that sold assets against the opposition of 80% of those polled.

The TPPA locks us into the current disastrous economic settings.

Still waiting for the cost benefit analysis of the China FTA, Wayne?

by Andre Terzaghi on February 06, 2016
Andre Terzaghi

I’m an engineer, working in manufacturing/R&D. My entire career has been spent working for companies that rely on international trade, for purchasing inputs and selling finished goods. I spent part of 1997 (the early years of NAFTA) working at a maquiladora in Tijuana, and that particular experience struck me as a win-win for USA and Mexico. So I’m very strongly in favour of removing barriers to international trade. Nevertheless, I’m very strongly anti-TPPA.

The actual trade benefits to New Zealand look very nebulous, relatively small, and a long way in the future. However, the non-trade costs appear quite concrete and kick in almost immediately. So it appears to me the actual trade aspect of the TPPA is a very thin veneer over the bulk of the agreement which really isn’t about free trade.

The sectors of our economy that stand to benefit from the TPPA (dairy being the biggest) have already expanded to the point that they are seriously damaging to our environment and risky to the economy because of the volatility of prices on commodity markets. Personally, I really don’t want to see those sectors encouraged to expand further until they have cleaned up their act. However, the sectors that we should be trying to expand, high-value-added high-intellectual-property endeavours appear to get nothing from the TPPA, and in some cases (such as software development) the TPPA appears to add new restrictions and obstacles.

The ISDS provisions look frankly appalling to me. The idea that a foreign corporate can sue for “the loss of expected future profits” and not just losses already incurred is simply…well…WTF? The makeup, lack of accountability, and no provision for appeal of the tribunals goes against any idea of fairness and justice. I find the analyses produced by the likes of the esteemed learned Professor Geddis much more plausible than the airy assurances that the US has never lost an ISDS case, so we’ll be fine. Which conveniently leaves out the fact that Canada and Mexico have lost cases, and been required to pay massive compensation claims, mostly in cases where those countries have taken quite correct and proper steps to protect their environment as far as I can tell. And the chilling effect of the threat of such claims on the actual process of governance, as we’ve already seen in the stalling of tobacco plain-packaging legislation. Yes, we have ISDS provisions in existing agreements, but not with the USA, and American views on the use of aggressive litigation as a money-making tactic are not something we should want to get anywhere near.

It seems to me that the TPP proponents are unable to distinguish between “encouraging foreign investment in New Zealand” and “selling out New Zealand’s means of earning its way”. Investing in New Zealand means creating something new or adding substantial value to what’s here. Very little of that kind of foreign investment seems to have happened in New Zealand recently. But we’ve already done a scary amount of “selling out New Zealand’s way of earning income”, and signing up to something that helps even more of that is even scarier. Yes, I’ve experienced several times what happens when a company gets bought by a larger foreign corporate (from both sides), and it’s not something I think should be encouraged.

The way the agreement was negotiated, kept secret even from most legislators in most countries but with heavy participation from corporate interests, naturally fuels suspicion that it would be a charter for protecting existing corporate interests. As it seems to have turned out to be.

And now I’ll suppress the urge to inflict even more of my pompous assery on you all and leave it at that. For now, at least.

by Wayne Mapp on February 06, 2016
Wayne Mapp

This item was not really about the merits or otherwise of the TPP, but rather how it has affected public sentiment.

It does appear the NZ govt is going to become more active in promoting the TPP, rather than leaving the field of public discourse almost entirely to opponents.  

I think Todd McLay, as an electorate MP, will have a more instinctive sense of how to allay public concerns.  The govt may be skillful enough about this to effectively marginalize the opponents, so that the opposition to TPP reverts back toward the usual 25% who generally oppose free trade agreements.

So the goal for the govt will be to be seen as seriously dealing with the concerns of middle New Zealand. If the govt is successful in this then the opposition to TPP will not become the equivalent of anti-nuclearism of the 1980's. 

Obviously ratification by the US Congress is the key to the ultimate success of TPP. I suspect it will go through during the period after the US elections and prior to the swearing in of Jan 2017. After all the opponents of TPP said Obama would never get single track authority from a Republican controlled Congress, but he did. Those who voted for single track authority are almost certain to vote for the agreement itself.

Obviously I am a supporter of TPP, and the first five commenters to my article are not.

I think the concerns about New Zealand's sovereignty and ISDS are greatly exaggerated. There is a view that US corporations are wholesale going to sue the New Zealand govt (and presumably the other ten non-US state parties) for essentially all the normal activity of govt. And that they will do this because as everyone knows US corporations routinely sue everyone in sight.

If that was so, the US could hardly trade with anyone. The courts of Europe, Asia and the US would be log jammed with law suits against all the foreign companies that the US companies trade with. No companies outside the US would take the risk of dealing with US companies. But in fact they do.

When did Air NZ last have a major dispute with Boeing that paralyzed their relationship? After all Air NZ has an alternative. They could buy all their planes from Airbus. But they don't because they believe they can trust Boeing to be a suitable partner over many decades.


by Andre Terzaghi on February 06, 2016
Andre Terzaghi

Wayne, sorry about not directly addressing the point of your post. I figured I was already getting too far into tl;dr.

I don’t think it’s a left-right, progressive-conservative divide. I think it’s concern over losing control over our destiny to non-resident foreigners, corporates especially.

We’ve had a lot of high-profile foreign acquisitions of productive assets in New Zealand recently, many of them by Chinese interests. Coming on the heels of the Chinese FTA, it’s hard not to look at another agreement with several more much larger countries and not wonder if that will usher in another wave of acquisitions and loss of control (and that the value-added will be captured overseas). Even though many productive assets have already been sold to Canadian and American interests even without a free trade agreement with those countries.

Many people in New Zealand work for companies that have gone through foreign acquisition, or have close relationships with people in that situation. Apart from a very few top-level managers and owners, I don’t know of anyone who considers it a positive experience.

Add into the mix that the current National government has done a lot of cuddling up to and coddling big corporates, often foreign. To the point that even strong conservative supporters complain loudly about corporate welfare. If you can’t see that, Wayne, you truly have partisan blinkers on. And it’s irrelevant whether Labour did it too or not. I was pretty angry about the crap Labour indulged in, though I supported the Chinese FTA.

Your comments about the ISDS are unconvincing. The ISDS system looks much more corporate friendly than any national court system. I claim no expertise in legal matters, but the small amount of research I’ve done into the successful ISDS cases against Mexico and Canada look like the companies would have had extremely low chances of success in a regular court system. To the point that they probably wouldn’t have risked wasting the money to try. Hence regular courts are not currently clogged with international trade investment disputes.

Worldwide, there is increasing questioning and anger about the increasingly dominant and intrusive role corporates have in our lives, and New Zealand is a part of that. I agree that it has similarities to anti-nuclear feeling in the 80s, in New Zealand and the rest of the world. The TPPA looks like a tool to help cement that corporate influence into our lives. No, the sky won’t fall in when it comes into force, it’ll be more like turning the heat up on the pot full of frogs.

I have in fact voted National in the past, several times, although on average my voting habits and motivations are slightly more “left” than “right”. But the TPPA will be a very big black mark against National in my mind for a long time to come. So yes, overall, I think the TPP issue may indeed be the next “nuclear” issue.

by Stewart Hawkins on February 06, 2016
Stewart Hawkins

Although I agree with Wayne about supporting the TPP his article is clearly addressing whether the issue will be a future "defining moment". I do not believe it will be. The working New Zealanders I know are all for it. NZ is way too small a pimple on the rump of world trade to ignore this chance to be inside the agreement unless we go all green and confine our travel to the range of a Nissan Leaf. Sure, Kelsey and Co can prattle on all they like and a few letter writers to the Herald can make their contribution but my read of the public mood is that in the absence of anything the fear-mongers can actually convince them to worry about (they have had several weeks so far and nothing has shone out) the public wants NZ to be trading with the world to its maximum capacity to increase our GDP and make each individual a little bit wealthier.

The Auckland protests were generally viewed as embarrassing to the city and nation. The Maori anger is looking increasingly faux, assuming the elders can actually read and understand English, though no doubt there will be a Maori version of the TPP. So outraged were they that they wouldn't allow the Prime Minister to speak about it at Waitangi, yet their colours are nailed so firmly up Labour's behind that they did allow Little to address his TPP opposition to them. Once again Maori are being written off by the rest of the population as not really part of the current century and are likely already being taken for granted by the Labour Party.

No, the TPP isn't a "defining moment"; just another trade deal that we will look back upon in a decade trying, and failing,  to recall the name of the Labour leader who was against it at the time.

by Lee Churchman on February 06, 2016
Lee Churchman

So the goal for the govt will be to be seen as seriously dealing with the concerns of middle New Zealand.

Most people don't understand trade anyway, so rhetoric will rule the day.

by Lee Churchman on February 06, 2016
Lee Churchman


The working New Zealanders I know are all for it

Why would it matter if they weren't? It's been obvious for a long time that the TPP was a fait accompli. The lack of public interest probably has something to do with that.

by Ross on February 07, 2016

The working New Zealanders I know are all for it

Well, I'm not sure how many working NZers you know but this isn't a popularity contest. Earlier this week, the Dominion Post published a series of articles about TPPA, including one about its effect on workers’ pay.

Even economists who are adamant about the significance of the deal for the overall economy don’t think there will be any particular spike in wages.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says the potential benefits of the TPPA for the economy are like the little touches put together for an open home, such as freshly brewed coffee and baked bread.

“No-one’s going to be able to say, ‘As a result of the smell of fresh bread, I got a price two per cent higher than would otherwise be the case’, but all of these things you do contribute towards a successful outcome in the end, and that’s what this is.”

So, as far as workers are concerned, the TPPA is the equivalent of "freshly brewed coffee and baked bread" at an open home. Now there's a deal too good to refuse!

by Charlie on February 08, 2016

A few matters arising:

Negotiating and signing the TPPA was part of the current government's polices for the last two elections and they have been democratically elected on that basis. The far left had their chance in the election booth and were rejected.

An indication of the perceived worth of the TPPA is the surprisingly principled stance of Phil Goff, who is prepared to cross the floor to support it. More and more we see the remnants of the Labour Party being controlled by the far left faction and the biggest loser in this whole affair looks to be Andrew Little, who hasn't shown any principled leadership in this affair:

> Stated his opposition to the TPPA and predicted dire consequences should we sign it.

> Then admitted he hadn't actually read it

> Subsequently added that should he lead a Labour government in the future they wouldn't pull out of the treaty.




by Megan Pledger on February 08, 2016
Megan Pledger

Labour and the greens didn't say they wouldn't sign the TPPA so on that point Right and Left were no different so it couldn't have swayed voters.  And how could Labour and the Greens take a position anyway - they weren't allowed to see the text.

And all the workers I know hate the TPPA - so wins that arguement.

The original point of the trade deal was to round up all the little players and let us have a deal amongst ourselves.  We should reject the TPPA and go back to just being in it with countries our size so that we all get some benefit rather than having the Americans screw us at every turn through the IDS.

You only have to look at what the Americans have done to their own environment to see the are going to have no qualms about doing the same and worse to some other competitor country.  If they can come in and destroy our dairy industry then all the better for them.



by onsos on February 09, 2016
This whole article is bunk. You usually do much better than this, but this is typical of how you misrepresent the left.
Is trade the new divide?

No. You are misrepresenting the Left. Labour, for instance, itemised exactly how the TPP impinged on sovereignty in unacceptable ways. 

I get disappointed with this kind of sloppy attack on the left by you. You want to believe that the left are simplistic and emotional, but that is your delusion. 


by Wayne Mapp on February 09, 2016
Wayne Mapp



I did not actually write the heading or the intro  - only the actual text. But in respect of TPP, am I actually wrong in describing the reactions of the various political parties on the left and centre - left? I specifically acknowledge that they have differing positions.

And at least going by Chris Trotters commentary he certainly sees the reaction to TPP as evidence of "the times, they are achanging."

by Fentex on February 09, 2016

I don't think trade is the divisive issue with the TPP. I think it's being used as a rallying point for people feeling unrepresented and concerned that growing inequality is caused by nefarious policies in general.

Which is to say it isn't anything to do with trade - either expanding or contracting, increasing or decreasing competition - that worries the vocal opponents. I think the sovereignty issue is just an easy to explicate hook to hang complaints that have more to do the exclusion of labour from opportunity.

I think the divisive issue that is rising in import is growth in inequality and it's consequent effects on opportunity and influence and the TPP is grasped as a manifestation of the fear of purposeful encouragement of inequality by the removal of representation in governance (what some people see as protecting investment from arbitrary governance others see as neutering of their, hopefully positive, politically powerful vote).

Personally I think increasing inequality will be disastrous for everyone. It will kill the golden goose of vibrant economies and tempt those burdened by it's cost into fascism.

by Goldie on February 10, 2016

 I agree that Labour abandoning ANZUS in 1985 was a major breach of the previous bipartisan consensus in the same way that the current Labour party's repudiation of FTAs is. But the reality is that the TPP has been signed and will be ratified. So if Labour really oppose the TPP, then they will presumably advocate withdrawl from the TPP.

But even Andrew Little has said this will not happen. (Then again, Lange throughout 1984 assured the NZ public that Labour would not withdraw from ANZUS, but he did).

But the difference is that the constituency defending ANZUS were really limited to the defence force and the RSA. In contrast, within a few years there are going to be a lot of businesses dependent on the TPP. The TPP is expected to grow exports by 10%, so there will be a lot of industries with a very strong incentive to defend the TPP. Equally, those industries will be scared to death at the prospect of being outside the TPP and being shut out of the Asia-Pacific markets by discriminatory tariffs and trade rules.

Second, the polls indicate that National will be re-elected in 2017, so by 2020 the TPP will have become a fact of life.

Thirdly, there is widespread international momentum overseas for reaching FTAs. A number of countries are already asking to join the TPP. There is the RCEP, and talks are underway with the EU. By 2020 NZ could be a member of a huge global open trade zone. At that point, it will be impossible to pick apart. Opposition to this will be rather quixotic.

Lastly, opposition to nuclear weapons had a strong moral purpose. In contrast, opposition to the TPP seems based on a vague opposition to US corporates, and given that most NZers happily buy Apple iPods, watch US movies, use Facebook, drink at Starbucks and eat at McDonalds, I'd suggest that opposition to US corporations is not that strong amongst the general public.



by onsos on February 10, 2016
I'll be a little more specific, then. I'll address exactly what you wrote. My apologies if I seem to quote you out of context; I know that that can be frustrating.
With regard to Maori opposition, you wrote this:
the TPP debate is not about its actual terms, it is about where you stand. 

That ignores the most significant Maori opposition was to the process--specifically the lack of consultation. This accounts for the Maori party's opposition, for instance.

It also ignores the very real discussion about the actual terms that has happened. I think it is patronising on your part to think that you have been following the debate closely, while Maori opposition have not. This is especially egregious when you have ignored the main basis for the opposition from the Maori leadership organisations that have opposed it.

This is similarly patronising:

For the Left it appears the TPP is one of the key determiners of whether you are a true believer or not. 

It again works on the basis that the left have not discussed or thought about the issues, while the right have. That's just bunk, and ignores the broad consensus that free trade agreements like CER and the China free trade agreement have been positive. 

Specifically, with regard to Labour, the debate has been heated and public, and has focused on the issues. To simplify their position to this is just wrong:

It is why Labour has used the sovereignty argument as the basis of their opposition. 

Sovereignty is the binding principle behind their opposition, but there is specific clarification:

  • Our Parliament would not be allowed to ban overseas speculators from buying up Kiwi homes. Other countries, including Australia, negotiated an exemption from this clause but National failed to do so for New Zealand.
  • Foreign corporations could sue the government over policy changes seen as affecting their businesses.
  • New Zealanders’ access to life-saving drugs could be restricted as our laws are tilted in favour of US pharmaceutical companies.

They also cite the lack of significant economic benefits.

There's many valid criticisms of Labour's approach, but this idea that somehow the left are ideological believers is just self-edifying bunk on your part. It's a way of dismissing opposition without addressing what they say.

Simply put, it is not the left that is missing the nuances in the TPPA, but you that are missing the nuances in the left. Misinterpretting Chris Trotter isn't helping your cause.

by Fentex on February 10, 2016

Lange throughout 1984 assured the NZ public that Labour would not withdraw from ANZUS, but he did

No he didn't. NZ was excluded, not withdrawn, from ANZUS. ANZUS was / is an agreement to consult on National Security and Defence matters in recognition that an attack on any party constituted a threat to others, not an agreement to let signatories sail whatever vessels and weapons they please in each others waters.

It was a policy choice of the U.S and Australia to equate NZ objection to nuclear powered and armed warships with a lack of commitment to common security and to exclude NZ from ongoing ANZUS activity.

by Fentex on February 10, 2016

Thirdly, there is widespread international momentum overseas for reaching FTAs

Absolutely and that is a very good thing. But there is also an increasing resistance to ISDS provisions as included in the TPP.

To copy something I recently posted on Kiwiblog (to illustrate that the TPP ISDS provisions are different from what we have signed before and that people who honestly object to them are not hypocritically complaining about the same thing we've done before)...

And for readers information, because I thought it important to know when discussing comparisons between the NZ-China FTA and the TPP – as it seems most people are pleased with the success of the former and did not worry it imposed a horrible burden on NZ and therefore presumably it’s ISDS provisions do not terrify – the difference in ISDS provisions are…

In the NZ-China FTA the provisions are contained in Section 2: Investor – State Dispute Settlement and to pluck the most relevant paragraph…

Article 153 Consent to Submission of a Claim

1. If the dispute cannot be settled as provided for in Article 152 within 6
months from the date of request for consultations and negotiations then, unless
the parties to the dispute agree otherwise, it shall, by the choice of the investor,
be submitted to:

(a) conciliation or arbitration by the International Centre for the
Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) under the Convention
on the Settlement of Disputes between States and Nationals of
Other States
, done at Washington on March 18, 1965; or

(b) arbitration under the rules of the United Nations Commission on
International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”);

provided that the investor shall give the state party 3 months’ notice prior to
submitting the claim to arbitration under paragraph 1(a) or 1(b).

…which basically says if the dispute can’t be resolved by national courts or otherwise the parties will resort to long established processes already in place for resolution.

The TPP on the other hand applies CHAPTER 28 DISPUTE SETTLEMENT and when it comes to resolving unsettled disputes…

Article 28.4: Choice of Forum

1. If a dispute regarding any matter arises under this Agreement and under another international trade agreement to which the disputing Parties are party, 28-3 including the WTO Agreement, the complaining Party may select the forum in which to settle the dispute.

2. Once a complaining Party has requested the establishment of, or referred a matter to, a panel or other tribunal under an agreement referred to in paragraph 1, the forum selected shall be used to the exclusion of other fora.

…and you see where it starts to stack the deck in the favour of the complainant from the start.

The TPP goes on to provide more of it’s own rules which I find creates conflicts of interest in arbitrators (by providing for using lawyers, rather than judges, as arbitrators who’s future employment may rely on their decisions).

by Fentex on February 10, 2016

The TPP is more than an FTA opening up access, it is also a regulatory agreement that imposes restrictions on NZ quite separate from the trade it may expand. We agree to submit to ISDS provision the like we never have before and we adopt U.S standards of IP regulation far in excess of any we've had before.

Asserting we gain trade as the whole of the TPP's effects is dishonest.

I personally judge the TPP is against NZ's long terms economic interests (by investing us too much in U.S inspired and dominated regulation) but fear membership is compelled by our political interests (or at least our political classes judgement of them).

by Siena Denton on February 15, 2016
Siena Denton

Will the TPP debate define the New Zealand political divide for decades? As yet that is unclear, but history may provide a guide

I agree that "history may provide a guide" from the conclusion of World War II to be precise.


It is necessary to understand the political-economic basis of this “free trade” empire.

The American empire is of a new type, in that its mission ― its “manifest destiny” as it were ― is the global spread and institutionalisation of capitalism.

The process that we now call “globalisation” is often spoken of as if it were a natural, almost climatic process: a flourishing of the “market” that moves ahead in leaps and bounds as long as it is not impeded by state-imposed rigidities or artificial monopolies.

This is rather akin to the way in which news media talk of “the market” as if it was an angry god whenever a recession strikes or a bank collapses, and the image is profoundly misleading. 

There are markets, each leavened in its own way by cultural and political structures, but there is no “the market.” 

 It requires political leadership and initiative to bring markets into existence, make them socially and economically sustainable, and develop rules and institutions that maintain them. 

It requires time and planning to incorporate populations into markets. 

 The United States has been able to use its political dominance since World War II to develop, in an often haphazard or self-defeating way, a globally integrated economy in which its businesses are dominant and have privileged access to key markets and resources.

Whom has stated they want to write the rules and they have the (TPPA handed to them on a silver platter), and if they didn't Big Bad China would?

Whom is also engaging in a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)?

The language the U.S., uses as an example "enforcing our trade rights"  and knocking down" which the USTR ambassador, Mike Froman has a fondness for repetitive use of...He sounds like a crossbreed of Clint Eastwood (The Enforcer 1976) and our Jesse Ryder who was successful in "knocking down" an obese, obsolete whale.

Statement by United States Trade Representative Michael Froman at the Senate Committee on Finance 

Washington, D.C.
January 27, 2015

“As a central part of the President’s overall economic strategy, our trade agenda is committed to supporting more good jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening the American middle class.  At USTR, we’re advancing those goals by knocking down barriers to U.S. exports and levelling the playing field for American workers and businesses of all sizes.  As we work to open markets around the world, we are enforcing our trade rights so that American workers, and farmers, ranchers and businesses get the benefit of all the economic opportunities the United States has negotiated over the years.

The question begs to be asked and answered. Who runs our countries: us or global finance?

Stuart Fraser is the former head of the powerful Policy & Resources Committee of the peculiar City of London Corporation, and an influential figure in Britain. He’s quoted in The Price We Pay, a recent documentary on tax havens and corporate tax avoidance.  He says in the film:

“Many politicians have an illusion that they actually run their country, when actually they run their country within the confines that the global financial system places on them.”

To what extent is Fraser’s statement true?

This, if you think about it, is one of the great questions of our age.

A comment made by Martin Wolf, the Financial Times’ chief economics commentator back in 2005 and in general terms he stands by what he said then...

Wolf notes, that “Fraser’s View” is held both on the right (beneficient markets force evil governments not to fleece their people) and on the left (beneficient governments can’t shield their people from nasty global forces). 

Currently all I see is a competitive race to the bottom and because of our country's size and isolation it feels like we're in a damned if we do and damned if we don't type predicament in regards to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that horrible, nasty (want to rule, conquer and bring us into total submission ), U.S.A.

Its my personal view and everyone has their own and they're entitled to have it.





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