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TPP: An epitaph for self-interested treaties done in secret

Written By: - 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: , , ,

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.

 


  1. Lets just assume for the purposes of this post Donald Trump doesn’t have faithless electors, and avoids being impeached. Read about the bets against here

39 comments on “TPP: An epitaph for self-interested treaties done in secret ”

  1. Chris 1

    Wow. Cue-cards and minders. Thought he hated cue-cards. Trump’s look has changed so much since the election. He’s still in shock over the result. He looks scared shitless. He mightn’t last the distance. Pence will be president before the end of 2017. Clever move on his part, really. Especially when nobody else would run with Trump.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      It’s a big job. Anyone who walks into the Oval Office for the first time and gets the first full daily security briefing and isn’t fucking scared, isn’t taking the job seriously. Trump is and that’s why he won.

      • marty mars 1.1.1

        Nah more be careful what you wish for in case you get it. Little boy out of his depth imo

      • Chris 1.1.2

        Maybe. Feels like his minders have reeled him in, which was expected, too, I suppose. He does seem very different, though.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.2.1

          As they say, be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

          • Chris 1.1.2.1.1

            Yes, I certainly don’t want him to change. My concern was always that he’d be reined in. Time will tell. My bet, though, is on Pence rolling him. How that happens won’t matter, but that’ll be the Republicans’ plan.

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.2.1.1.1

              Yes they could back stab Trump, but their joy would be shortlived as Republicans would get killed in the mid terms , and Pence has zero chance of winning states like Florida and Ohio in 2020.

            • mosa 1.1.2.1.1.2

              Pence rolling a sitting President ?

              That would be unprecedented.

              Trump has got a massive ego and once the apprehension dies down he will get very comfortable behind the big desk.

              The Republicans have won the senate and the house and will be busy dismantling Obamas legacy.

  2. { ‘ Frankly, this appeared to be a 19th century deal done amongst the fucking gentry for the benefit 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. ‘ }

    Thats it. I would go a little further than yourself in being slightly more anti free trade , however,… in the end ,…they got theirs, alright.

    And just to think they were going to drag us all through that. Them and their arrogant , patronizing belief that the peasants are best not included and told a thing. Every time I saw that Groser and Key the loathing and contempt grew.

    Them and their secrecy . Them and their behind – closed – doors deals and meetings and conferences. Them and their refusal to have the GUTS to be open and honest about their REAL MOTIVES and what was included in those documents. Them and their LIES.

    Filthy … fucking … sold out … globalist cancers.

    But now,… we can watch Key scrabble around trying to drum up support for something nobody but his spineless lackeys supported him in.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold.

    Go fly your red peak flag , John – your brighter future just got dimmer. And while your at it , … as you sleep with your family in your car, …. spare a thought for the family’s of the Pike River Mine disaster and how you denied them justice and closure by having your governmental departments seal off the evidence forever.

    You arsehole.

    • Garibaldi 2.1

      Well expressed WK!

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      Them and their secrecy . Them and their behind – closed – doors deals and meetings and conferences.

      And notice that all the people that Trump is meeting with during his transition is occurring in a fully transparent way, with press present to see live who is coming and going from Trump Tower/his golf course 24/7. Apart from the odd steak hamburger dinner out that is.

  3. BlueSky 3

    Watch out for a Trump back flip on this. He is a pathological liar after all and will do the deal if it suites him with the wrong people in his ear. I would not bet it is dead.

    • tc 3.1

      Checkout baldwins SNL sketch done since the Donald won, its a roll call of backflips and denials just as you suggest.

  4. b waghorn 4

    The scary thing now is these useless nat boobs are going to attempt to renegotiate the china fta,

  5. Ad 5

    Pacific Pivot just became a pirouette.

    It’s pronounced China.😊

    If trade is war by other means, will the new emerging China-led deal also see more countries use the opportunity to disinvite US military bases?

  6. Cinny 6

    I read yesterday that the outgoing PM was going to chase a deal between NZ, China, Korea, Japan and India. Don’t we already have trade deals with China, Japan and Korea?

    Why not just chase a deal with India (I know the outgoing PM has been trying to do that for years and failing)? I don’t understand why there would be another agreement as we already trade with 3 out of the 4 countries mentioned.

    “Beard and Hope said the focus had shifted to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between India, China, Korea, Japan and New Zealand.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/trans-pacific-partnership/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503950&objectid=11752905

    How much money has NZ wasted on chasing this bloody TPP?

    • Paul 6.1

      Key works for big corporates. He is a pimp for big finance,from where he was sent to deliver NZ to their grubby hands.
      More trade treaties mean less rules and less taxes for them.

  7. What can you do with a dead TPPA?
    Are there people who could stuff it for hanging on the wall?

    D.TRUMP – TAXIDERMIST – “WE DELIVER”

  8. Jenny Kirk 8

    Totally agree with lprent,and Wild Katipo.

    What I find unbelieveable (and cringe-making to the extreme) is ShonKey still trying to keep some sort of TPP going. Surely his recent behaviour overseas is starting to embarrass even his most ardent supporters!

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    Trump’s not even in the office yet and he’s already delivering goals the protesting left in NZ has been striving vainly for for years.

    • Puckish Rogue 9.1

      Trying to predict what Trump will do is like trying to predict what Winston Peters will do, I wouldn’t be surprised if the TPP is “renegotiated” and brought back

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        The moneyed corporate lobbyists and the Wall St hedge fund crowd never stop working to get their own way in DC.

        • Puckish Rogue 9.1.1.1

          He’ll probably announce it in a way that suggests he took the rest of the world to task and made them bow down to the workers of the USA

          The reality is there won’t be much tinkering with the agreement, if at all

    • AmaKiwi 9.3

      CV, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but NOT their own FACTS.

      FACT: In 15 days Trump has done u-turns on 15 previous promises. Trump is a compulsive liar.

      http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/trump-flip-flops-president-elect-214478

      CV, if you trust Trump, I have a fantastic deal for you on the Golden Gate Bridge. Send me your bank account info and I’ll handle all the details. You’ll make so much money you can buy the entire South Island.

      In 1933, Hitler campaigned as the peace candidate, promising that because he experienced the battlefield suffering in WW1, he would NEVER lead Germany into a war. But he would get rid of all the undesirables in order to make Germany great again. 80 years later America has the Orange Hitler.

      • Colonial Viper 9.3.1

        A lot of people still seem really sure that Trump is the new Hitler.

        This is despite that the majority of the flip flops you describe is Trump rushing towards the moderate centre. It’s not all going to be wall. some of it might just be fence or technology. It’s not really necessary to get a special prosecutor for Hillary, she’s been through enough. Deporting 12M illegals isn’t a top priority, lets just secure the border first. Well, there might be some potential link between human activity and climate change.

        Really Hitler-like, yes?

        CV, if you trust Trump

        I trust Trump to deliver on the things which will make him increasingly popular, and to rip the core voting base away from the feckless out of touch Democratic party.

        BTW do you have any doubts that Trump will deliver a conservative supreme court justice for his evangelical base, to slash personal and corporate taxes to bring an antagonistic Republican establishment on side for his massive infrastructure programme, to work with Putin to destroy ISIS once and for all, and to permanently bury the TPP?

        I don’t. My feeling is that all this stuff is going to be entrenched before the end of 2017.

        BTW here is the War Nerd podcast on the US election result.

        • AmaKiwi 9.3.1.1

          I trust Trump on NOTHING, except to ignore the conflicts of interest and keep making money for himself.

          • Colonial Viper 9.3.1.1.1

            So, same as Bill and Hillary Clinton.

            For instance, I think that Bill and Hillary’s $250,000 speaking engagements this year are going to dry up compared to 2014/2015 as corporate and foreign clients find much less reason to pay money to them.

  10. save nz 10

    Great sum up!!

    “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.”

  11. Neo liberalism respects no partys if they adhere to its core ideology.

    The problem for them comes when you have an outspoken maverick who doesnt.

    Like Trump.

  12. Nic the NZer 12

    The third of a three part post on (the case against) free trade.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=34864

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