- Date published:
1:23 am, November 23rd, 2016 - 39 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, business, Economy, employment, Environment, exports, farming, International, leadership, Politics, trade, wages, workers' rights - Tags: tpp, TPPA, trump, zombies
About the only good thing I have to say about the misogynist buffoon, under-skilled charlatan and ignorant bigot that the Americans have elected to be their constitutional monarch for the next four years1 is that he appears to have killed the current version of the constraint of trade agreement known as the TPP.
Donald Trump today announced :-
President-elect Donald Trump says the US will quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on his first day in the White House.
He made the announcement in a video message outlining what he intends to do first when he takes office in January.
Good riddance. Apart from anything else, the focus on this grossly over-sold and under-explained pile of MFAT crap was that it got in the way of actually doing something useful in freeing up trade across the Pacific or anywhere else.
Now I’m not your standard opposition to trade agreements. Indeed up until the TPP, I haven’t seen a trade agreement in negotiation in my working life that I couldn’t tolerate (CER, Korean FTA) or outright like (China FTA).
For almost my entire working life, I’ve been indirectly or directly exporting from NZ for a variety of industries from farm products and technically specialised masonry to producing advanced electronics and the software that controls it. The latter is what I have been enjoying doing for the last few decades doing.
While I’m sure that some of the comments here will disagree, NZ because of its small population and limited resources has to trade offshore. Since I wanted to stay here, I have selected the firms I work for carefully. The last few decades have bene for companies that have seldom have even 5% of their sales here or more than 15% in Australasia. I have deliberately selected employment in companies who export almost pure intellectual property to willing niche market customers worldwide.
Similarly I’ve enjoyed the regulated and controlled but quite open NZ economy. That is why I’ve stayed here. We can get the goods and services from offshore we need to build the new export industries to pay for them. These are the industries that employ every increasing numbers of people directly and indirectly and therefore spread the wealth generation.
Contrast that with the rural sector with its every falling employment, and slow concentration of ownership and wealth in the hands of the offshore investors, including the banks that suck up much of the profits.
So what does the TPP bring for our open economy and society?
As far as I can see, it just brings a pile of strange constraints on what we can do, and what we can do to our society. More infuriatingly, few of them appear to help improve the efficiency of our economy and the quality of our society. Instead they almost appear to try to diminish both.
For example, Pharmac, with its state purchasing effrontery has successfully been reducing the cost of medicines for our aging demographic. Under TPP it is goinmg to suffer a gradual dismantlement under the TPP and pushing the profits from higher consumer costs to benefit pharmaceutical companies.
Similarly other highly efficient state built cost savings for the citizens of NZ (like public hospitals, prisons, roads, welfare systems, water, transport systems, electricity etc) will be dismantled in favour of putting the value from those in the hands of investors more concerned with extracting profit than efficiency.
This loss of productivity and increases in costs isn’t hard to see in NZ now. The classic example is the commercialisation of the electricity systems. Which over two decades has been accompanied with a massive increase in real power charges for most of NZ consumers. Sure, it provided minor improvements for selected industries. But those have been the larger ones who could push the power companies and government over a barrel. Try and find the smaller developing companies or consumers who like their power bills.
Moreover over a few decades, the deregulation and breakup into commercial enities of the power industry has also brought the power infrastructure of both power generation and dispersal to the brink of collapse several times. For the latent MBA in me, the most recent privatisations have been accompanied been noticeable for some rather obnoxious profit gouging in their balance sheets in asset valuations, the accompanying price increases for power, and a clear reduction in effective investment in the future of our power infrastructure..
Sure there are a few benefits to NZ from the TPP. But those are pretty small, well in the future and restricted to a very small group of rentiers and companies holding rural property.
Rather than enhancing our society by broadening the ability to generate wealth earned offshore as actual trade agreements like CER or the China FTA did, it will simply tend to entrench the large landowning corporations extracting commodity resources for the world while providing no additional employment. In other words, it is a complete waste in developing our economy.
So just why wasn’t this a good deal for NZ? As the Economist (albeit trying to say this is a good thing) said in a revealing comment:-
Rather than a conventional focus on cutting tariffs, TPP emphasised stronger safeguards for intellectual property, the environment and labour rights (detractors felt it went too far on the first and not far enough on the other two).
Yeah right. The TPP wasn’t much to do with trade, it was primarily a regulatory framework with a bit of trade tacked on board for the slogan morons to parrot “freer trade” and “tariff reductions”.
But the problem was that the regulatory framework envisaged was coming from far too low a standard. At best it looked far more like the primitive US systems with their concentration on obstructive bureaucracy and costly inefficiencies (I’ve been involved work for the US). Certainly nothing like the lean and comparatively frictionless way that companies operate from here.
Even in the things that it supposedly would strengthen overall between the countries it was massively inadequete. In NZ it would have massively reduced both the environmental protection and even the ability of workers to organise effectively.
It was a treaty that would have just outright constrained trade of the types that we need for NZ. Those are the ones that employ people in high waged jobs.
It would have increased “intellectual property” protection to the point where it would have reimposed and even extended some of the costly policies of the past that favoured incumbents against competitors. For instance the freedom to import past local distributors (“grey importing”), which has dropped costs here a lot for industries and consumers would have been massively curtailed.
For actual creative industries in this country, it would made a damn good attempt at stifling innovation by impinging on the ways to innovate and develop new marketing strategies. Just thinking about the effective imposition of the obsessive copyright and patent nightmares faced by tech companies in the US on our innovative tech companies makes me quail. Far better to move to somewhere without those “protections”.
In short, the TPP wasn’t about freeing up trade for NZ. It was about constraining it for most of us, and as far as I could see, favouring of a few property owners here and from offshore.
I still can’t believe that the ivory-headed morons from MFAT didn’t understand this. Perhaps they should have asked some of the people who were actually involved in working in the economy rather than some self-publicising self-interested ‘stakeholders’.
That was actually doomed the TPP agreement. It was completely shrouded in secrecy. The governments in each country were only doling out information on a completely secretive basis, and only to a very small and limited set of chosen ‘stakeholders’. The criteria for whom appeared to be that they were likely to be some of the few beneficiaries of the deal.
Small wonder that what was hammered out was so damn awful. It is so bad that, outside of the few who directly benefited, support from industry here was lukewarm at best. The eventual agreement hammered out by negotiators just ignored the advice that didn’t agree with their misconceptions. Most of the time they didn’t even hear it because there was insufficient information to give it. It was especially stupid to ignore the contrary opinions that could have improved it. Transparency is damn noisy, but it does help in pointing out the dumbarse flaws that lead to such a wide range of opposition.
Frankly, this appeared to be a 19th century deal done amongst the fucking gentry for the benfit of the parasitical arseholes of society. Like one John Key who is currently prancing around at APEC trying to raise the zombie in between photo-ops.
Small wonder that even a free trade advocate like myself wound up opposing such a shit deal, and (with a peg on my nose) actually agreeing with the buffoon president elect of the USA.