Written By: - Date published: 11:59 am, December 3rd, 2012 - 8 comments
Categories: activism, assets, class war, Economy, International, jobs, Privatisation, sustainability, telecommunications, trade, us politics, workers' rights - Tags: tpp
Today a small group of protesters have been outside the entrance to Sky City Convention Centre, where a round of secret international TPP negotiations started to day. The big concerns about the TPP are the secrecy with which it is being developed, the potential to undermine NZ’s independence, the ability to make and enforce our won laws, and the amount of control being given over to powerful (US-based) multinational corporations.
On today’s protests, Stuff reports:
Around 20 placard-carrying protesters are outside the centre with police watching on.
A protest march through the city is scheduled for later today.
It’s a pity the march through the city wasn’t publicised more widely in advance. (I have a prior unbreakable commitment this afternoon).
Others try to put the case for TPP. The above Stuff article reports on the government’s (unconvincing) reassurances that they won’t negotiate anything that is not in NZ’s interest.
Two of the contentious areas are intellectual property and pharmaceuticals. Commentators have expressed concerns that New Zealand might have to sacrifice freedoms such as the right to parallel import trademarked goods, and make concessions over Pharmac’s bulk purchases of drugs and medical supplies.
But it is understood New Zealand does not expect to go into bat alone on these and other controversial aspects of the discussions.
Amongst the very unconvinced are Jane Kelsey, who writes:
However, the TPP is not simply, or even principally, about trade. There is a well-documented push from the US to secure extensive new rules that will serve the interests of their corporations and empower them to enforce those rules.
But it is increasingly clear that US politicians see the TPP as a vehicle to re-establish America’s ascendancy in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China’s emergence as a superpower.
Kelsey states that Key is seeking to talk down possibilities of NZ being caught between the TPP and the China-driven RCEP trade negotiations. Kelsey concludes:
Whether or not you think that is desirable, it ignores both geopolitical realities and the divergent paradigms on which China and the US operate.
A serious risk is that governments participating in the TPP will sign up for strategic reasons to a text designed by and for the US to serve its commercial and foreign-policy interests. As a result, New Zealand and Australia, alongside Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam, who are members of Asean, will become caught up in a new Cold War, conducted through the proxy vehicle of economic integration agreements.
Large numbers of Kiwis are also unhappy with the secrecy of the TPP. This makes it impossible for ordinary people to judge how good it will be for the country. A Consumerlink, mid-November poll shows,
65% of New Zealanders think the Government should make the contents of the agreement public before the negotiations are completed and the agreement is signed, 14% do not mind if this does not happen, and 21% have no opinion.
[h/t: Draco T Dastard]
Today Canada will be joining the negotiations for the first time. Canadian consultant Peter Clark is arriving to attend tomorrow, and is underwhelmed by what has been achieved so far, and what may be achieved in the future.
The TPP negotiations are based on a shaky foundation. Congress has not granted Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the TPP.19 Without TPA, trade agreement negotiations are fraught with risk and uncertainty. It is folly.
Without TPA, the TPP negotiations are a crapshoot for other countries. Without TPA, all Trans-Pacific partners are exposed to the virtual certainty of having to re-negotiate with Congress a hard fought, done deal.
The TPP is nowhere near finished. On several important issues, it appears to be stuck in neutral. It will, like all other free trade negotiations, be about hard fought exclusions. In Asia, there are alternatives to the TPP for ASEAN members. The RCEP will be much more user friendly and flexible. This will feed dissent and objections to U.S. demands.
More information about the protests this week on the GPJA blog, including [edited to save space – check blog for full version]:
3 Dec Auckland: Street theatre and rally at opening of negotiation round, 8.00 am, Entrance to Skycity casino, Federal St….
Public meeting hosted by the Fabian Society. Speakers: Lori Wallach (from US watchdog Public Citizen) and Jane Kelsey. 6.30 pm, Old Government House lecture theatre, University of Auckland, Auckland
4 Dec Wellington midday. 12noon, Midland Park, Lambton Quay.
1-8 Dec Auckland. ‘Having fun with TPP’ Cartoon exhibition, BizDojo.Co.Space, Karangahape Road, Auckland….
NB a mobile billboard featuring one of the winning cartoons and advertising the Dec 8 rally will be driving around Auckland from 4-12 December. … Details tba, contact Stephen Parry 021 039 0284.
7 December Auckland. [Related, but not a TTPA event:]… Aotearoa Is Not For Sale: The Big Push. March against Asset Sales, meeting 6pm at Britomart. …
8 Dec Auckland: Major rally and presentation of Avaaz petition on TPP …, meeting at Aotea Square at 2pm, marching to entrance of Skycity casino, Federal St. ..
TPPA? No way! Awareness raising concert at St Kevin’s arcade, 6-9pm.
10 Dec Auckland “Trading away our future: TPPA and the Environment”, … Refreshments provided. 5.30 at Green Party offices, 17 Mercury Lane, Newton. http://www.facebook.com/events/562836617066132/