Perhaps New Zealand’s acceptance of the TPPA will depend upon the outcome of the Northland by-election

Prime Minister John Key shortened his trip to Japan and Korea in order to spend more time campaigning in the Northland by-election. Domestic affairs trumped international ones – for a short time anyway.

He said he was going north to progress the TPP – the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is meant to lead to a free trade agreement between 12 economies including the US. Negotiations have been wandering on for years, with the ongoing promise of a conclusion ‘soon’.

I support the strategy of New Zealand’s involvement in such deals. In order to prosper, the economy needs to be an open one, engaging with the world. It will be a specialist producer – exporting some things, importing others – and that involves working with our trading partners. A consequence is that we (and they) have to give up some economic sovereignty, making concessions in order to obtain gains.

Free trade agreements are not just about eliminating tariffs and other border barriers. It is also necessary to change policies deep inside the borders which are, in effect, also forms of protection. However I do not think that all national policies should be compromised for trade purposes – any more than I think that GDP (material market output) is the ultimate indicator of progress and prosperity.

Economic theory says not every free trade agreement is necessarily beneficial. I am not alone in being haunted by AUSFTA – the Australian-US FTA. At the time it was signed in 2005 there was a widespread view that John Howard’s Australian government was so politically over-committed to the agreement that it settled on a poor quality one, with small benefits offset by large downsides (instead of the other way around). A decade later the research suggests such fears were well founded.

There are fears that this will happen with the TPP Agreement (TPPA). The negotiations have been too secret for us to know what is in it; the consequence is that there are exaggerated claims as to what will be agreed. But even so, if what is settled is moderate, it remains possible – some would say ‘likely’ – that its benefits to New Zealand will not offset the downside compromises.

The concern is that, like the Howard government, Key’s may be so over-committed to the TPPA deal that it will sign up to a poor quality one. What the domestic response will be I cannot tell. Unfortunately the internal debate has largely been between uncritical pro-free traders (and the handful of businesses which may benefit) versus the anti-TTPA lobby. There is very little public articulation of the view expressed here that whether we should sign up depends on what is in it (and what is left out).

Can the Key government sign up to a deal without public consultation? Usually – probably in the case of the FTTA – there will be a need for some legislation approved by parliament. Often this legislation is not very contentious in itself, but parliament could refuse to agree to it, thereby scuppering the whole deal including the more unacceptable bits which may not require legislation. Will parliament? I don’t know. Even if we knew what will be in the TPPA the politics is complicated.

It may be even more complicated if the Northland by-election rejects the National candidate in favour of Winston Peters because the government will then have to convince more parties of the wisdom of the TPPA in order to get any legislation through parliament.

To be frank, New Zealand is such a small player that I doubt that Key will have had much influence on Japan’s and Korea’s thinking. Rushing back to Northland may be doing far more for his hopes of pushing New Zealand’s accession to the TPPA through.

And so to a coda. The anti-TPPA movement recently expressed their opposition in city-wide demonstrations. I could not help wondering if it would have been more effective campaigning for Winston Peters in Northland.

Comments (12)

by Fentex on March 22, 2015

I support the idea of free trade and agreements to further it, but from what I am permitted to know of the TPP I am very much against it for it seems to be the antithesis of a free trade agreement.

NZ has largely removed restrictions on our end of trading, the onus is on others to match us, not us to adopt new restrictions as quid pro quo for incremental and inadequate increases in markets.

by Nick Gibbs on March 22, 2015
Nick Gibbs

I to support the idea of free trade but until the text of the TPP is released its impossible to say if its good or bad. 

I don't think Key will be too over committed to the treaty. He was after all a currency trader and must of had to walk away from good deals gone bad before. 

I think it would be really surprising if Japan agrees to any meaningful reduction of agricultural tariffs. My question is, if they don't sign does the whole agreement collapse or do the remaining partners carry on?


by william blake on March 22, 2015
william blake

The negotiations have been too secret for us to know what is in it; the consequence is that there are exaggerated claims as to what will be agreed.

That may be the case, on the other hand they may be understated, who knows?

Nick, the reliance on Keys currency trading acumen may be misplaced, as a day trader he will take the short term benefit over the long term loss.

by Wayne Mapp on March 24, 2015
Wayne Mapp

In my view it is highly unlikely that Peter Dunne, if he holds the crucial vote after Saturday, would vote against any enabling legislation required to implement TPP. 

He knows that such a step would be the equivalent of terminating the Govt. That does not appear to be his style.

Even Labour may struggle to vote against TPP. They will want to look they can be responsible in government. They know other nations would be looking at this issue, and measuring them. However, I guess their domestic political considerations may be most important. It will be a struggle for the soul of Labour. But I have seen parties vote against things, but not with their full muster. This could tempt Labour in the right circumstances.

by mikesh on March 24, 2015

No doubt Peter will find some pretext for supporting the TPP even if he is opposed in principle. Just like he did on the sale of assets issue when he came up with the "no more than 50%"  formula.

by Judy on March 25, 2015

"Free trade" TPP(A) might be called, but 'trade' it ain’t.  Apparently, only five sections are about trade.  It could be much less and involve high tariffs disadvantaging NZ, and only loosened over decades.  Also, once signed by the negotiators, our Parliament has no say.  Only cabinet gets to 'ratify' a done deal. 

Apparently, then, for four years we won't be told what is in it.  It reminds me of ECan, which is democracy kept under wraps until nothing can reverse the possible damage by those controlling the water consents. 

“Then there is the U.S. Congress having the unique right to vet and approve other countries’ implementation laws before it will allow a trade agreement to come into force. The US has used this right to force more changes to laws for agreements with South Korea, Peru and the Australia-US FTA. Late in 2004 the US government forced additional changes to Australia’s copyright laws [11] after the implementing legislation was passed in August, before agreeing to ratification. See briefing paper on certification for more details.”

If that is the outcome for Australia, which actually has some influence, the likelihood of NZ having any control over US Corporates, that have essentially written the text of TPP, is zero.

I can only look upon this corporate global grab as disastrous for unemployed/ low-waged working New Zealanders and wonder what's in it for the individuals pushing it since so many of our politicians view parliament merely as a stepping stone to a lucrative career in lobbying or directorships, legislating to sell assets to their 'blind' trusts and removing democratic rights in favour of business profit.  

I do not trust this parliament is working on New Zealanders' behalf.


by Julian Ang on March 25, 2015
Julian Ang

The leaked texts of the TPPA is a major cause for concern. Some might say anti-TPPA campaigners are scaremongering, anti trade, protectionist and anti-business but no the majority of us just want more transparency. We do not want our country to wade into some deal where the costs will in the longer term significantly outweigh any potential short term benefit.

The investor state dispute settlement chapter, if correctly interpreted is the one that is most damaging in terms of limiting a government's ability to make policy in the public's interest. The idea that large corporates many times the size of New Zealand's GDP can hold our governments to ransom (threat of litigation) if policy is made to protect the public which could eat into their profit margins is particularly worrying.

We already have such cases documented with Tobacco Giants taking the Australian government to task for introducing plain packaging for cigarettes and the list goes on for similar cases in El Salvador and other countries. I'm unsure if any legislation is needed to pass in the House for such agreements? Assuming that it does, how much scrutiny will be allowed for the "TPPA bill" - will it even make it to select committee?

Even if it does, and new provisions to protect Kiwis get inserted that deviate from the TPPA, will it be deemed to be a breach of the agreement? I'm not sure if ratification of such an agreement gazumps our ability to meaningfully debate and make substantive changes to the "TPPA Bill"? Maybe someone who is familiar with such matters can shed some light on the legislative process when it comes to trade agreements? 

by Nick Gibbs on March 25, 2015
Nick Gibbs

@Judy and Julian,

Can you post the link to the draft copy of the TPPA you have obtained and explain how you got it.


by Draco T Bastard on March 28, 2015
Draco T Bastard

I support the strategy of New Zealand’s involvement in such deals. 

Why? There's no need for them. All we, as a nation, need to do is define the conditions that we are willing to trade with other nations. If other nations don't meet or exceed those conditions then we don't trade with them. All other nations do the same thing and the whole thing is finished. Simple really. No need for FTAs or even the WTO.

In order to prosper, the economy needs to be an open one, engaging with the world. It will be a specialist producer – exporting some things, importing others – and that involves working with our trading partners. 

Actually, it doesn't and societies don't specialise unless they're determined to stagnate and collapse. In fact, history shows that all developed nations developed under strict trade rules that forced the development of local talent, skills and infrastructure.

by Julian Ang on March 29, 2015
Julian Ang

Useful link to a recent case where the Canadian government has been sued as a result of a TPPA type of agreement -


by David E.H. Smith on March 30, 2015
David E.H. Smith

But, how many 'savvy' Americans (New Zealanders) & their global corporate associates are 'poised' to make windfall profits from their international cross investments & pre planned treaty 'arrangements' at the direct expense of the harmless non shareholders, ie. 95% - 99% of Americans (New Zealand), et al?
While the good sales folks of Wall St. may prefer to tell their 'Enron-able' customers that were also the victims of 'The Preliminary Foray of The Wall St. Meltdown', et al, that it's just some Unions that are fighting back, how much of the Fighting Back of Unions against the Secret, Unethical & Anti-Democratic Arrangements of The Global Treaties' 'Death-Star-Chamber' Tribunals, can be understood in the context of the harmless NON Shareholders, including Union members, fighting to Survive (not 'thrive') Against the Uncaring, 'Profits at Any (body else's) Costs', SHAREHOLDERS & their Colluding, Global Corporate Leaders?
- Wall Street Journal, blog, Mar. 25, 2015

Gain a political 'Smidge', Lose ('Hidden' & Secret Costs) a Lot; The NET EFFECT. How many Years will Paying Tribunals' Penalties Bush Back tour Retirement Date?
Global Corporate Economy Conniving to Get Harmless NON Shareholders to Pay Trillion$ in Court Costs, Punitive 'Penalties', etc.?
No Treaties = Corporations/SHAREHOLDERS pay for Their Own 'Mistakes'.

How Many Preferred Shares of TPP, C-CIT, TTIP, CETA, et al, Generated Enterprises are You Selling your Right to Sue the Global Corporate Economy for? 'New' Shareholders Can Say 'NO' to & Over-Rule TPP, CETA, TTIP, et al, Plans?

Will corp. 'New Zealand', et al, & Feds to Prepay $Billions for All 'Trade' Treaty/'Arrangements', et al, Secret ('Death-Star-Chamber) Tribunals' Punitive Damages to Protect Home Territory's Taxpayers? Other Territories, Municipalities, et al, "...(we) need to control corp. New Zealand's 'Contributions'".

Undemocratic, Higher Taxes & More Cuts to Services to Pay Secret Penalties; NON Shareholders Have to Pay corporates USA, Japan, Australia, NZ, Canada, et al, & their SHAREHOLDERS.
How Much are You Selling your Right to Sue the Global Corporate Economy for?

But, If Not PUTIN; 'The WHITE KNIGHT', then Who Do YOU Want to Bankroll the Saving the harmless NON shareholders of the World from Fast Tracking TPP's, CETA's (TTIP) Secret 'Death-Star-Chamber' Tribunal Penalties?
Will China, Iran, the Muslim World, et al, Support Putin in Suits?
How about Graeme Hart, &/or, the 'coveted' Hong Kong Investor, et al?

It will be good for, not only the NON shareholders of the enterprises that can be generated by the on-going global 'cooperation' of corporate treaties, agreements, partnerships, et al, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, the EU - Canada CETA, TTIP, the China - Canada Investment Treaty, et al,
for the potential shareholders, as well,
who are quite interested to know if President Xi Jinping (China) will support Russia as a co-member of B.R.I.C.S. when President Putin uses his potential role as 'The White Knight'.

And, while President Putin's potential support as 'The WHITE KNIGHT' in the development of the TPP, et al, litigation below can dramatically off-set the hundreds of billions of dollars due to the present & future sanctions leveled by American led, et al, corporations & financial institutions via their governments' signing their global corporate economic treaties/'arrangements',
and the potential for making trillions of dollars for the Russian economy over the next 30 - 40 years & beyond,
are the citizens (SHAREHOLDERS & NON shareholders) of Germany & JAPAN just being prudent in wanting to wait for the outcome of:
1) The Submission to The SUPREME COURT of CANADA & the highest court in Germany, et al, to make their findings regarding 'The Submission':
'The SHAREHOLDERS & Corporations of AMERICA, CHINA, Japan, Germany, Canada, et al
the harmless Canadian NON shareholders, both; Native & non Native, et al'?

2) 'The MERKEL (Chancellor of Germany) Letter; To Sue, or, Be Sued?' ?

Have the federal representatives of the nations that are the potential signatories of TPP, TTIP, et al, willingly provided the NON shareholders of US, Canada, Europe, the Trans Pacific nations, et al, with the aforementioned information? Are the federal representatives, et al, depriving the NON shareholders of Canada, et al, of the due diligence information that enables the family of the NON shareholders of Canada, et al, to make informed decisions regarding their financial planning?

And, would a reasonable person conclude by a preponderance of the evidence, &/or, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these documents, et al, demonstrate that the SHAREHOLDERS of AMERICA, CANADA , the EU & Trans Pacific nations, et al, really do not care which NON shareholders pay them the punitive penalties, etc., by way of their secret ('Death-Star Chamber') TRIBUNALS, as long as its not the SHAREHOLDERS who pay & not their corporations regardless of which country the corporations:
1) operating from,
2) maintain their headquarters,
3) use to do their cyber banking, accounting, 'taxation', etc.
4) et al?

And, re; the CHINA – Canada Investment Treaty (C-CIT), et al, is it understandable why the 'coveted' Hong Kong investor & his associates are 'concerned' with the aforementioned findings of The SUPREME COURT of CANADA, et al, & the effects of the potential findings, et al, on the EU, AMERICA, the Trans Pacific nations, et al, treaties with CHINA, et al?

In regard to arms sales (and other 'contentious' products & services & investors, repatriating profits, et al) ; how about the sale of arms (non nuclear) in general in regard to the 'trade' treaties that are continuing to be secretly negotiated and how will the Tribunals, both; B.R.I.C.S. & non BRICS, adjudicate, decide & penalize the NON SHAREHOLDERS for the sale of legitimate, semi- legitimate & 'illegal' sales of arms within the signatories nations & the those of others, &/or, unaligned? Of particular, interest is China, which does have an treaty with Canada, which puts China 'at odds' with other arms manufacturing & nuclear powers that it (China) does not have any 'arrangements' with.
Are these types of questions that your politicians & the corporate lobbyists calls 'forget-me-nots' ('Buyer Beware') that will be (maybe) worked out after the fast tracked signatures are obtained?

And, what do you think is the significance of the line in The Submission to The Supreme Court of Canada '...And, lest one forgets that the revelation of the present perilous international treaties/'arrangements' began with the regard for the rights of Native Canadians as per the Treaties/'arrangements' that corporate Canada & the Government of Canada have 'foisted' upon Native Canadians...'? What are the various ways that this line will cost the SHAREHOLDERS, et al?

On the other hand, it may be worth repeating yet again,
'What the TREATY of VERSAILLES was to the 20th century PALES in COMPARISON to the TPP, CETA, C-CIT, NAFTA, et al, in the 21st'.

And, how will YOUR submission to YOUR highest court IMPROVE upon The Submission that is presently before The Supreme Court of Canada?

David E.H. Smith
- Researcher
- 'Qui tam...'
Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 members of your family, friends, associates in order that they can use the due diligence info to make more informed decision about their families' financial planning, & then they can share it with 10 others...
For more Information & Questions re; The Relationship between Human (Nature) Rights & Economics by way of the C-CI Treaty, the CET Agreement, TPP, et al, and The WAD Accord

by Tim Watkin on March 30, 2015
Tim Watkin

Nick it's a good question re Japan. And if it doesn't move much on agriculture, you've got to wonder if the US will, and then any value to NZ becomes significantly less, perhaps marginal.

But I don't think Northland and Winston will make one iota of difference to the vote. Unless it's ag-free or there are any other obvious reasons not to vote for it (so obvious that even National would give pause) then Labour will vote for it. I'd be amazed if they didn't.

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