- Date published:
6:34 am, October 7th, 2015 - 161 comments
Categories: capitalism, economy, farming, Globalisation, International, overseas investment, trade, us politics - Tags: bad deal, sovereignty, tpp, TPPA, worst negotiators ever
Here’s some of the best analysis of and reaction to the TPP. Starting with the indefatigable Jane Kelsy:
National government betrays NZers in TPPA deal
‘This deal is a travesty of democracy’, said Professor Jane Kelsey about the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) in Atlanta, USA. ‘The government has ignored, insulted and lied to its citizens.’
‘Minister Groser has misled New Zealanders. He always knew he was on a hiding to nothing on dairy. I have predicted many times that he would not do as he said and walk away from a lousy deal, but would make claim that there were some intangible future gains from being in the club. That’s exactly what’s happened’. …
The indispensable Gordon Campbell at Scoop:
Gordon Campbell on the TPP deal reached in Atlanta
If the TPP was the Rugby World Cup, the New Zealand team probably wouldn’t be making it out of pool play. While the final details will not emerge for a month, the TPP is offering disappointing returns for New Zealand… and over a very long phase-in period… of up to 25 years in major areas important to us, even though many of the concessions we have made would take immediate effect. Typically, Prime Minister John Key has already been spinning the “93% tariff free” outcome across the TPP region, as if that situation was entirely due to the TPP deal. To get that figure, Key is adding all pre-existing tariff reductions and adding them to the TPP. To take a relevant example… 80% of US trade with other TPP members is already duty free.
So… while failing to achieve any significant – or immediate – market gains for our major export commodity, we have made major concessions on intellectual property, the operations of Pharmac and on investor state disputes. In each case, things could have been far worse: but that doesn’t mean the concessions we have made are insignificant, or good. …
The erudite Andrew Geddis at Pundit:
Of TPP’s, ISDS’s and the Constitution
I have real concerns about the potential for this ISDS process to straitjacket future Government actions (including actions taken by Parliament after MPs are elected on an express promise to carry it out). That’s because, once the ISDS procedures are in place, there will be very smart, well paid people whose job it is to make use of them to benefit the companies that pay their bills. And in spite of the reassurances currently being given, the ISDS procedures (and the TPP (maybe A) that they are a part of) of necessity contain a lot of vagueness that will be left to be clarified by future actions. So no-one, and I mean no-one, really knows how the agreement actually will play out in the future – because until that future happens, we won’t know what sort of clever arguments and applications will get dreamed up for using them.
Which means that if we sign up to the TPPA (assuming the “A” becomes a reality), we are going to change how our country is run into something else. Maybe that change really won’t be a big deal – maybe ExportNZ and John Key are right to say that ISDS’s are not a problem for us. Or maybe it will be a big deal – maybe we will find ourselves reasonably frequently hanging on the decision of three private individuals who are deciding if we are allowed to have a policy in place without having to pay many millions of dollars to an overseas company.
But you know what? I don’t think anyone – and that includes the people currently negotiating the TPP – really knows either. Which worries me. Quite a bit.
TPPA fails dairy and foreign buyers tests
The gains from the TPP for New Zealand’s largest export industry have failed to meet the test set by the government, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.
“The government promised meaningful gains, but the dairy industry is describing the outcome as disappointing. … “While there are gains from tariff reductions in some sectors, this agreement was always going to be judged on the value to our largest export sector, and on that score it has failed. “Tim Groser says, ‘you take what you can get’. But that has to be balanced with what New Zealand loses.
“National needs to be clear whether this deal will stop a future government from further restricting land and housing purchases by overseas buyers. Early reports indicate that this has been traded away. Giving New Zealanders a fair go at owning our land and fulfilling the Kiwi dream of owning a home are core principles for Labour. We reserve the right to regulate and legislate to make this happen. …
And Labour blogger Rob Salmond:
New Zealand isn’t as big of a loser as Mexico, but its gains are very small, and could get swallowed by the sovereignty losses. On the gains:
• The increased beef access to Japan has to be shared with other big beef exporters and is slow to come in.
• The increased dairy access is pathetic. Fonterra is right to be disappointed.
• The US removing tariffs on baby formula but not milk powder is a non-event for New Zealand, because we mainly sell milk powder, not baby formula. Other, non-NZ, firms turn that milk powder into baby formula will reap the rewards.
• The cheese access isn’t a big deal, because it is only very partial in the US, and Japanese cuisine is cheese-light compared to most others through the TPP region.
As a small country, however, we are still in danger of being spent into the ground by lawyers representing clothing companies or Hollywood over parallel importing, or global tech firms over taxation. That scares me. Some in New Zealand – including Tim Groser – are claiming they can always renegotiate the bad bits of the deal later. I think they’re whistling Dixie. New Zealand has no leverage to demand a renegotiation, and nothing to trade with if one happens anyway. …
Reaction from the medical profession, a representative of Doctors for Healthy Trade:
Doctors not prepared to swallow TPP pill
We’ve been told repeatedly that the increase in the cost of medicines won’t be dramatic. Quite right – the extra costs from prolonging monopoly rights will be like watching a tree grow; it’s slow but gets bigger all the time. True, none of the technical rule changes will affect “the fundamentals of PHARMAC” either. Mostly they chip away at the foundations of the intellectual property regime that operates before PHARMAC gets a look in. Where there are changes to PHARMAC, they will nibble at its bargaining power and we hear will also mean higher administrative overheads.
But the biggest concern of the majority of Doctors for Healthy Trade supporters is that the TPPA will bring stagnation on actions to control the products that make people sick in the first place – tobacco control, managing junk food advertising to children and cutting down on fossil fuels being turned in to carbon emissions and climate change. …
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says:
Statement by MSF on the conclusion of TPP negotiations in Atlanta
“MSF expresses its dismay that TPP countries have agreed to United States government and multinational drug company demands that will raise the price of medicines for millions by unnecessarily extending monopolies and further delaying price-lowering generic competition. The big losers in the TPP are patients and treatment providers in developing countries. Although the text has improved over the initial demands, the TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries, which will be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies. …
On what happens next – a practical summary in The Herald:
After the deal: 90 days for scrutiny
Once the Trans Pacific Partnership talks conclude, New Zealand and the 11 other countries must tick several boxes before the agreement can be brought into force. Under a rule set by the United States, any agreement cannot be signed until 90 days after negotiations end, to allow time for full consideration of its pros and cons. The same rule also says the agreement’s full text must be made available to the public after 30 days.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide a report to the Cabinet on the costs and benefits. The Cabinet will then decide whether to approve the agreement. Once the Cabinet approves the deal, the full text will be tabled in Parliament. It will then be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee, which will hear submissions from the public.
A pointless process, since Cabinet signs off on the deal without any inconvenient democracy in the loop.
New Zealand will likely have to change its laws to bring them into line with the agreement. This would probably be done through a single piece of legislation, and was likely to include changes to copyright, tariff and patent laws.
Once other countries have followed a similar process, the agreement will come into force. There is no set timeframe for this to happen, though Japan has proposed a minimum two-year limit.
Other countries that do have a democratic ratification process will not necessarily fall in to line. The US itself is a major unknown:
A TPP Deal Is Finally Reached, but Don’t Assume It Will Pass Congress
Election-year pressures and the deal’s actual details may yet scuttle final passage of TPP.
Several brewing political disturbances could form a perfect storm to defeat the TPP in early February. The most immediate danger is in the House, where fast-track trade promotion authority passed by very narrow margins during a drama that included one failed vote.
Now, restless hardline conservatives just pushed House Speaker John Boehner out of his job. Several key leaders of this revolt are TPP opponents, and the fast-track vote actually played an underrated role in the revolt. … In the end, it’s clear that hard-right conservatives, who largely oppose TPP, have received a boost at the expense of more moderate members who tend to support the corporate objectives of the trade deal.
The same dynamic will be at play on the other side of the aisle, where 28 pro-trade Democrats provided essential votes that helped fast track pass. Most major unions and progressive groups are withholding any funding for these Democrats, and in some cases will be supporting anti-TPP primary challengers.
If even a relative handful of Democrats or Republicans get scared off by this new political situation—one quite different from what existed in June, when fast track passed—the narrow pro-trade margin in the House may evaporate. (Fast track passed by a larger margin in the Senate and TPP would likely do the same, especially since it will only need a simple majority. But it’s notable that Senator Orrin Hatch, a key architect of fast track and defender of the trade deal, is bashing the final agreement as “woefully short” of his expectations.)
Opposition to TPP from highly visible presidential candidates, smack in the middle of intensely watched primary-state voting, presents a serious challenge to final passage of the deal. This will be particularly true if Hillary Clinton comes out against the deal, which I personally anticipate she will. (It’s too important to major unions and key progressive activists for her to support TPP, and continued high poll numbers for Bernie Sanders may not leave her a choice.)
To put it simply, this is an extremely fluid situation with a very small avenue to passage for TPP. We may not know if will actually pass Congress until the final roll-call vote is over.
And just in case you need further reading, another roundup of points here: Twenty Perspectives on The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
National promised the TPP would bring great economic benefits. Really? It will be worth less than 1% of GDP by 2030. pic.twitter.com/KskCRTO6d0
— New Zealand Labour (@nzlabour) October 6, 2015
— New Zealand Labour (@nzlabour) October 5, 2015