The CPTPP treaty has been signed: 'the engagement'.
'The marriage' would be ratification by NZ Govt.
Please RT if want NZ Govt to:
🔴fulfill its promise of an INDEPENDENT REVIEW of consequences; then
— Bruce King (@CrowdvBank) March 10, 2018
It’s not a shiney new deal, it’s basically the same deal that David Parker and Labour were protesting about a few years ago. It’s not about trade, it’s about setting the agenda for the global economy.
The rules are wrong for NZ. Business can’t trust democracy to protect its profits. Governments are under pressure to deal with social issues and climate change and meaningful action on these will negatively affect foreign investors and multinationals.
They’ve kind of highjacked the popular discourse of free trade and expanded the scope of these treaties to include legal obligations that make it very difficult for future governments to regulate in the public interest.
Wallace Chapman suggests that the TPPA will create lots of jobs. Hailes cites Tufts University that there will be a net decrease in jobs from the TPPA. MFAT says there will be only a slight net increase.
This discrepancy means there needs to be independent analysis of cost benefits before ratification. This is an opportunity for Labour and NZ to be different from National and not rush to complete the deal without bringing everyone in.
Haile cites MFAT’s own figures to show that the benefit to the economy as a whole is trifling over time. Chapman uses the example of reduced tariffs putting meat exporters back in the game, and again, jobs! But Hailes points out that the meat industry will be increasingly automated (e.g. in abattoirs), so the promise of jobs isn’t reliable.
Hailes also co-authored this article published in the New Zealand Medical Journal last week,
In this viewpoint article, however, we focus on the CPTPP in the context of the global climate crisis and its potential downstream impacts on health. While the treaty pays lip service to broader social and environmental concerns, we will highlight how the CPTPP is geared fundamentally towards the interests of transnational corporations and foreign investors at the expense of concerns about human and environmental health.
There’s a good summation of the direct and indirect impacts on health from climate change (some already happening), along with pointing to the health benefits of an approach of mitigating climate change. However,
Only six of the 30 chapters to the TPPA, now the CPTPP, deal with trade in goods such as meat, milk and motorcars. The rest of the 6,000 pages cover a vast range of matters such as Electronic Commerce, Government Procurement, Labour and Environment. Yet nowhere in the final text is the term “climate change” mentioned.18
Article 20.15 appears to address the climate crisis obliquely…
But it is important to realise from a legal standpoint that these soft acknowledgements and the vagaries of the environmental “Cooperation Frameworks” (Article 20.12) contrast starkly to the enforceable rules designed to protect the profitability of foreign investments.
Investor protections under the CPTPP effectively introduce a backdoor mechanism to constrain New Zealand’s law-making process by enabling investors to sue governments if they adopt regulations that, for example, erode the expected value of their assets through environmental regulations such as the phasing out of fossil fuel extraction. These protections are not available to New Zealand citizens and businesses, yet they extend to “every asset that [a foreign] investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk” (Article 9.1). This expansive definition goes well beyond real estate and physical assets to cover almost everything that can be wrapped in the cloak of property rights, including this non-exhaustive list of examples: regulatory permits; intellectual property rights; financial instruments such as stocks and derivatives; “turnkey, construction, management, production, concession, revenue-sharing and other similar contracts”; and “licences, authorisations, permits and similar rights conferred pursuant to the [country’s] law”.
The effect of the Investment Chapter, in particular, is not so much to reform current policy but to prevent future progressive or precautionary reforms through obligations that make it more difficult for governments to regulate in response to public health and environmental risks.
Since 1984, successive governments in New Zealand and other countries in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have actively pursued a broadly neoliberal policy agenda characterised by transforming public property and social services into tradable assets and creating a regulatory landscape that prioritises interests of foreign investors.30 As we have noted, international economic treaties such as the CPTPP have been a key mechanism through which this agenda has been consolidated and expanded. However, in light of climatic impacts alone, it is now clear that this model of economic development is unsustainable, dangerous to population health and in urgent need of fundamental reform.
The Labour-led Government has launched into its first term with bold plans to align New Zealand’s economy with priorities dictated by the urgency of the climate crisis. This will include introducing a Zero Carbon Bill to set statutory targets for transitioning to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; health professionals will have the opportunity to contribute to the nationwide consultation beginning in May. Ironically, the Government’s ambition in this regard would be seriously undercut by signing a treaty that underwrites the economic status quo and creates strong legal headwinds for essential regulatory action. A systematic and independent assessment of the CPTPP’s anticipated impacts on climate disruption, and on mitigation strategies, should therefore be undertaken and released for public discussion before the treaty is ratified. The assessment should also include an analysis of the projected impacts on population health and equity. Such an assessment is particularly critical as climate change poses such clear risks to the health of New Zealanders, and the constraints on climate action conferred by the CPTPP (as presently formulated) would prevent important steps to protect our health and create a fairer society.