What’s in the TPPA?

Written By: - Date published: 12:15 pm, June 24th, 2012 - 44 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, democracy under attack, economy, International, trade - Tags: , , , ,

One of the (many) areas in which I am woefully uninformed is the The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It’s a “free trade” agreement being negotiated between NZ and 8 other countries (including the USA). What is it going to mean for us? Let’s draw together some resources and explore them together.

The factual outline is here on Wikipedia, note the section on Intellectual Property (IP) concerns. Plenty more facts, and highlights of concerns, here at TPPA Watch. For a quotable summary of the situation, which has grown much more lively since part of the secret TPPA text was leaked, let’s start with the always excellent Gordon Campbell (from June 14):

The leaked document on the US Public Citizen website confirm the worst fears about the Trans Pacific Partnership talks. The leaked text, and Public Citizen’s analysis of the text can be accessed here.

Thanks to a process conducted entirely behind closed doors, New Zealand seems about to sign up to a document that will allow foreign investors to sue us before overseas tribunals if this government ever tried – or any future New Zealand government ever tried – to pass laws to protect our health, safety or the environment, but which happened to cause foreign investors to lose money. Such “investor state” dispute resolution panels are very cosy affairs. They do things judges would never be allowed to do. As pointed out below, such panels are commonly comprised of trade lawyers who sometimes serve as the arbitrators, and sometimes as the advocates for the claimants engaged in suing governments.

Australia – thanks perhaps to its salutary experience of being burned by its free trade deal with the United States – has baulked at the provisions that New Zealand has accepted. Trade Minister Tim Groser’s response on RNZ this morning  was little help. On the one hand, Groser gave firm assurances that New Zealand would never sign up to anything that would compromise our sovereignty: “The New Zealand government will not sign any agreement that stops us now, or any government in future from regulating for public health or any other legitimate policy purposes. We will protect New Zealand’s legitimate rights to regulate.”

In the next breath though – and note the weasel word “legitimate” in what Groser said, which renders his assurances virtually meaningless – he went on to make the case for RNZ signing up to “ well designed” clauses that restrict our sovereignty. If such concessions are well designed, Groser argued, they will serve to re-assure prospective foreign investors that we will obey the rules, and at the same time the rules will afford similar protections to New Zealand companies investing offshore. At base, Groser is asking us to trust that he knows best, that he’ll get the balance right, and that he’ll ensure the gains overseas to firms such as Fonterra would outweigh the potential risks, liabilities and restrictions that may be involved back here at home. …

In effect, what he and his Cabinet colleagues are asking for is a blank cheque. There is utterly no transparency to the TPP negotiation process. Thus, the Key government is expecting the public to sign away significant sovereign rights, in the hope of securing a potential trade bonanza downstream – but the entire process is being carried out in a total information blackout, to the point where the first official insight the public will get about the TPP details will be well after Groser has signed up the current New Zealand government, and committed future generations to its terms. Oh, but rest assured it will all be “well designed.”  That’s what makes the leaked document significant, because it shows Groser’s assurances to be virtually worthless. …

This same issue about TPP secrecy and sovereignty concerns has also arisen in New Zealand as well – with an open letter written earlier this year by 100 legal professionals, academics and retired judges, a related column by academic Bryan Gould citing the risks posed by the TPP. An editorial response in the NZ Herald attempted to allay those concerns – largely with an argument that if the same rules will apply to all, what’s to fear? Like most allegedly level playing fields, this view naïvely overlooks the fact that some investors bring a far bigger legal war chest to the playing field than others. …

Right. In sum, the public has very good reason to feel concerned about (a) the adequacy of the TPP investor state dispute panels (b) the secrecy in which the TPP discussions are being pursued and (c) the emptiness of the Trade Minister’s assurances that everything will be hunky dory. If there is nothing to fear, why the secrecy? Can Groser at least give an assurance that before a document that will bind present and future New Zealand governments is signed, it is submitted to Parliament for scrutiny – and if not, why not?

Professor Jane Kelsey has been working tirelessly to keep NZ informed on the TPPA.  Her latest piece (June 20) is here:

 Secrecy in investment talks mocks democracy

The animated commentary and debate last week over the leaked investment chapter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations shows how relevant and important it is – and why the nine parties are so desperate to keep it secret. …

The reassurances that trip off the tongues of Trade Minister Tim Groser and Prime Minister John Key seem much less convincing when they can be checked against the text.  Public Citizen’s analysis shows the TPPA text goes further than existing US investment treaties. It far exceeds any of New Zealand’s. True, other chapters that are still secret could change that view. That is all the more reason to release the whole text now. The simplest way to describe the leaked chapter is a charter of rights for investors across the nine countries.

Those rules will lock in the current foreign investment regime, so we cannot become more discriminating about what foreign investment we have, why and on what terms. They also allow overseas investors to seek compensation if government regulation substantially affects the value or profitability of an investment. Local investors won’t have that power.  An investment can be anything from shares and real estate to mining or casino licences and contracts for public-private-partnership schools.

Most discussion of constraints on the government’s right to regulate has centred on tobacco controls.  But a raft of other policies could also prompt investor complaints. Imposing a capital gains tax. Slashing Sky City’s pokie numbers, especially if National guarantees more in a Convention Centre contract. More stringent mine safety laws, a ban on fracking, iwi approval for drilling in wahi tapu, or tighter regulation of mining by companies the government has invited to tender. Capping electricity price increases. Tighter alcohol retail laws. Reversing ACC privatisation, as Labour did before. Stronger finance sector regulation, such as capping a bank’s market share or banning crossover retail, investment and insurance activity.

Especially scary, given the Eurozone meltdown, is that New Zealand has agreed to US demands not to use capital controls to stop hot money flows that play havoc with the currency and exports.

The leak confirms what we feared – that all countries except Australia have endorsed the power of foreign investors to sue our governments directly in secretive offshore investment tribunals for breaching these far-reaching guarantees and protections. We should applaud and join Australia. Instead Prime Minister Key said all parties should adopt the same rules – by implication the other eight should gang up on Australia and force it to back down. …

The Greens and Mana have taken a strong stand for sovereignty. Winston Peters called on negotiators to withdraw from the next round in San Diego starting July 2 and launch a select committee inquiry so all New Zealanders can see the full proposal and comment on it. The Government majority rejected a petition seeking such an inquiry last year.  Labour’s position is still unclear. Groser has no problems saying the TPPA, like other agreements, would cede some sovereignty for, as yet, unspecified gains.

The minister is adamant the text will remain secret until the deal is done. Alarmingly, he says neither he nor the Cabinet have seen the text. Yet it is clear that major concessions have already been made. Who, then, is making these decisions and driving the negotiations and to whom are they accountable? Such mocking of democracy needs to end now.

While we the public distract ourselves with trivia like car crushing, and focus on other important matters like asset sales, the TPPA which is quietly unfolding in the background is actually the most important ongoing political issue.  It has potentially disastrous implications for our sovereignty and our future.  Time to get informed and get active – perhaps start at TPPA Watch, see the section “What we can do about it and how can we find out more?”


On a historical note, we’ve been here before. I recall a similar agreement being proposed, and the same issues being discussed, many years ago (probably 1990s). We were wise enough to drop that proposal (or modify it into an acceptable form). But I can’t recall the name of that proposal, thus I can’t find any details about it and the discussions that NZ had at the time. Anyone out there with a better memory who can point me in the right direction? Cheers.

Update: Jenny with the answer in comment 18, the MAI.

44 comments on “What’s in the TPPA?”

  1. BernyD 1

    You’ve probably done this but I googled it (“free trade agreement nz 1990”)..

  2. Sounds like another treaty that should never have even been drafted. What absolute policy laundering.

    The sad thing is it’s working, because nobody can “see” it being drafted, all the media coverage on it gets buried. This is one policy that really does deserve a media beat-up, because it’s not being fairly debated. Trade negotiations can and should be done openly.

  3. BernyD 3

    Hard to call it a “conservative” approach, when you think about the amout of changes made in recent years.

  4. RedBaron 5

    Anything that secretive must be a real problem. So why do Tim and all allocate the negotiations to unnamed individuals without any oversight? Who are these negotiators? What exactly is in it for the likes of Grosser? Are Grosser and co being paid to stay away and if so by whom?

    However, does this mean that I can sign an employment contract then assign my contract to my little overseas company. Then if my employment ceases in murky circumstances my little overseas off shoot can sue the NZ company…?

    Could the AFFCO workers union have an offshore holder (corporate) of their employment contracts. Then when their employer locks them out they can sue…?

    One could look forward to some of these scenarios, and given the advantage it gives offshore corporates I’m surprised that local businesses aren’t being more vocal.

  5. Wayne 6

    Is there any form of TPPA you would support. After all if the authority is Jane Kelsey, well she has never actually seen an FTA she would support. Not many people would now argue that the China FTA has not been a huge benefit to New Zealand, but Jane opposed it every step along the way. No doubt there will be concerns about particular aspects of TPPA, but that does not invalidate the basic concept.

    The typical “fair trade” arguments would invalidate most free trade agreements. For instance it is not reasonable for NZ to require China to have a minimum wage that is the equivalent of NZ or that they have the same environmental rules. So it will be the case for TPPA. The whole point of an FTA is to ensure that each country concentrates on the areas of the economy where it is most efficient, which of course is why NZ wants the TPPA, so we get more markets open to our agriculture. That of course will mean expanding agriculture in NZ. But as Steven Joyce would say, you can’t say no to everything and still expect to create jobs.

    • r0b 6.1

      Is there any form of TPPA you would support.

      I could (depending on details of course) support FTA’s that:
      (1) were negotiated publicly and openly
      (2) didn’t involve giving foreign entities the right to sue NZ or involve any significant loss of sovereignty.

      Not many people would now argue that the China FTA has not been a huge benefit to New Zealand

      I’m no expert – what are these benefits (specifics please, not blather)?

      • In principle, free trade is a good thing, as it involves loosening immigration restrictions, a levelling of global labour costs, and allowing industries to thrive in countries that are a bit more efficient- possibly at the cost of some level of local redundancy and less availability of fresh food. (due to being pushed out of the market by international produce) It’s also worth noting that the levelling of wages usually happens due to some degree of outsourcing while the wage discrepancy exists. To some degree international oversight is needed to enforce free trade, as while many people decried the WTO, they also reversed some really unjustified tariffs or embargoes- remember the Australians pretending our apples were a fireblight risk? The issue with the TPPA’s version of this arbitration is that it’s not really neutral, it would be an advocate for corporate trade. It would make sense to have a panel of senior judges from both countries involved in such a decision, ideally, as they can consider the wider social ramifications.

        The problem is, “free trade” as it is conceived in principle has never really been pushed. Every FTA so far has been quite protectionist in key areas, allowing private business to profit more, but not loosening immigration restrictions, not levelling out wages for developing countries, (unless you count china in that group, in which case there’s been a small amount of sucess) and so on. This had led to the more nuanced goal of fair trade among many critics- taking the positive sides of internationalism, but still proposing decent labour and environmental protections as well as things like looser immigration rules, pushing for a less corporate and more trans-national type of agreement, where small businesses also benefit, countries retain their sovereignty to a large degree, (hopefully with the exception of blatantly protectionist subsidies, tariffs, and embargoes) and we get to see the real benefits that freer immigration can provide.

        We won’t get the first fair trade agreement until we can convince governments to negotiate in the open, where the public in all countries involved can have their say- and it’s likely to be “yes, we want closer ties with other countries, but not just corporate ties, please.”

    • vto 6.2

      ha ha wayne, you are a funny non-thinker here…

      “But as Steven Joyce would say, you can’t say no to everything and still expect to create jobs.”

      Steven Joyce and John Key say yes to everything and still can’t create jobs.

      open your eyes man

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      Is there any form of TPPA you would support.

      Nope. In fact, I’d drop all present FTAs and the WTO and then:
      1.) Drop all subsidies to local businesses
      2.) Limit international trade to completed products only with a very specific ban on trading raw resources
      3.) Build up local infrastructure (high tech fully automated factories, processing of raw resources etc)
      4.) Implement reciprocal tariffs: This basically means analysing a countries laws to find the subsidies and protections that that country imposes and then adding an appropriate value so as to make their products equivalent at the gate (transport would be an added cost). Effectively, a local product would always be cheaper unless we don’t produce it at all.
      5.) I would then encourage every other nation to do the same.

  6. Colonial Viper 7

    Is there any form of TPPA you would support.

    Are there any other forms on offer, Wayne.

    But as Steven Joyce would say, you can’t say no to everything and still expect to create jobs.

    Steven Joyce has the formula for creating jobs, does he? After 4 years, you’re stilling willing to listen to his magic formula?

  7. freedom 8

    “Is there any form of TPPA you would support?”
    Absolutely.

    I support any agreement that says a Company has to trade under the title of its Corporate Parent. Pure and simple. Why can I offer my complete and unwavering support to such a document?
    Because no such trade agreement would ever be allowed by the Central Banks.

    As I asked the other day re Groser’s statement regarding the TPPA.
    How can anyone support amend or negotiate a deal that they have openly admitted to not having read?

    • BernyD 8.1

      Scary if true, throwing away historical precedents and wisdome without knowing it

    • Forcing corporate parents to put their names on their acqusitions would be a really interesting corporate reform. If you paired that with the return of corporate charters, I’d be really interested to see what happened.

      Some other things that would sway me to any trade reform:

      1) Dropping farm subsidies in america or europe. Exceptions for those are a huge issue to fair trade.
      2) Free immigration for people without serious criminal convictions. If you arrive with a valid passport, you can work in countries under such an agreement.
      3) Neutral and experienced arbitration for trade disputes. We’ve yet to see trade arbitration be done in a way that isn’t stacked with corporate activists.
      4) Removal of at least some of the obvious oil subsidies, and guarantees that subsidies for the purpose of environmental protection or improvement shall be generally exempt from challenge.
      5) Protection or extension of labour rights in the countries of all signatories.
      6) An agreement to a gradually rising minimum wage from low-wage countries, so that outsourcing is done in a sustainable manner.

      Obviously many of these would be non-starters in corporate states like America or China given how powerful the business and finance community are, but they would make these agreements generally very popular in more democratic states.

  8. jack 9

    This TPPA will cover everything, from mining to cigarettes not to mention Pharmac on the chopping block. This isn’t a “free trade”, this is blatant treason. I call Key MR. America because he’ll do anything the yanks want him to do. The US is a corporate dictatorship and now they want to take control over other countries. This will be a disaster for the average kiwi and if there should be coverage on the media this should be the headline but the media bury it, my guess is because they have an agenda.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      The US is a corporate dictatorship and now they want to take control over other countries.

      That’s always been the nature of empires and the wealth pump that keeps the locals in the dominant country placid. It’s just that the Empire of the US has been more founded upon economic principles rather than military (although it’s not afraid to use military if it needs to) that seems to have confused people into thinking that the US isn’t an empire.

  9. “This is a ‘one-percenter’ power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights”

    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/6/14/breaking_08_pledge_leaked_trade_doc

    A draft agreement leaked Wednesday shows the Obama administration is pushing a secretive trade agreement that could vastly expand corporate power and directly contradict a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama. A U.S. proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations would allow foreign corporations operating in the U.S. to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its ruling. We speak to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that posted the leaked documents on its website. “This isn’t just a bad trade agreement,” Wallach says. “This is a ‘one-percenter’ power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.”

  10. BernyD 11

    Sounds familiar

  11. muzza 12

    It simply beggers belief that this is goin on…been getting stuck into the local MPs over it, no responses for months, when on some issues they do reply.

    Should this be signed, with the contents which have been leaked attached to it, NZ is in serious trouble.

    Who TF, are these people negotiating, and Why TF, has Tim Grosser nor the Cabinet read the text?

    Souled Out , is what we are getting, in front of our eyes!

    Wonder what this means for the local councils etc, are they in the way of private enterprise, because they operate services which could be “opened up”…

    The mind boggels at how badly this could be!

  12. George D 13

    Where the hell is Labour on the TPPA?

    It was Goff who put us here. That might explain their current wavering.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      IIRC, the previous Labour led government started before the US got in and put their demands onto it. Don’t think it was any less secretive under Labour though.

  13. Macro 14

    It’s called the “globalization of poverty” and the extremist and radical economic fundamentalists have not yet finished their nasty work. It is all part of the so-called “freeing-up of trade” and “liberalisation of the market”, so loved by the WTO and IMF. The disastrous results have been apparent for some decades now for all who have eyes to see. Only the 1% who are oblivious of poverty and their hangers on (who imagine that they too could aspire to such wealth) cannot see.
    All “Free trade” agreements have the same effect, and that is the export of employment , manufacturing and national “advantage” off-shore, the continual degradation of income, and the substitution of cheap and (not necessarily better) imports in their place. The so-called “benefits” almost always fail to occur, as the subsequent loss of earning power in the most productive areas of the economy are lost. Labour bought into this stupidity in the 1990’s and have yet to wake up to the fact that they did for their support base more damage than all the machinations of any corrupt employer.
    Of course the only “people” to benefit from these agreements are the multinationals and they are the ones driving this grab for peoples rights.

    • Bored 14.1

      I see Hooton below justifying the whole “free trade” deal, he cares overly to defend the content but does not address the intent. You sum it up nicely. These buggers get away with the point issues and deals because no single one adds up to the whole, but together the direction is obvious, and the effects real upon those affected. Hooton and his ilk are the basest apologists for what is undeniably a system that sets out to exploit the vulnerable and enrich the elites. And he cant even claim to be a 1%er, crumbs from the table, an invite to the occasional feast, and when used up kicked into touch by his “friends”.

  14. Draco T Bastard 15

    The TPPA is another policy that the opposition parties need to say that they will repeal immediately upon entering government. Discussions between governments that are held in secrecy are anti-democratic and are thus illegitimate.

    • muzza 15.1

      The whole system is illegitimate, which is why this sort of thing is allowed to proceeed seemingly unchallenged.

      The lack of dispproval coming from our parliament is the give away, they are all in on it together!

    • Hami Shearlie 15.2

      I think so too DTB!

  15. vto 16

    I have said this before and will say it again. This government, and any other NZ government trying in the same manner, cannot enter into such an agreement. It does not have the power. It is ultra vires.

    The reason for that is that this TPPA restricts what our vote can accomplish. It means we cannot vote in a government to carry out our bidding – we will only be able to vote in a government to carry out bidding within the restrictions of the TPPA. That is a reduction in our vote.

    These particular constitutional arrangements cannot be altered on the basis of a bare majority in Parliament.

    It would be great if some expert could explain how this is not right. Hopefully they can’t and then the next government, or a court, is entirely within its capability to stirke the TPPA out.

  16. Matthew Hooton 17

    If people are really interested in this, and not just the nonsense from Gordon Campbell and Jane Kelsey, it may be worth reading New Zealand’s treaty ratification process here: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Treaties-and-International-Law/03-Treaty-making-process/index.php
    It is true that the new TPP will most probably be signed before becoming public, but then it will become public and each country will have to ratify it before it comes into force. (If there are provisions allowing companies to sue governments, then that would allow Fonterra to sue the US Department of Agriculture and it will be interesting, to say the least, to see how that goes down with the US Congress.) In New Zealand’s case, there will be Select Committee hearings on the text and of course parliament has to legislate to make any changes to domestic law that the treaty might require.
    People also seem to make a fuss about a trade deal having judicial procedures but that is not unusual Those for the existing TPP between NZ, Singapore, Chile and Brunei are outlined in chapter 15 (see http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/trade-agreement/transpacific/main-agreement.pdf ). A trade or investment deal without judicial procedures wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on – and NZ has used the WTO’s judicial procedures to force changes to Canada’s dairy subsidy scheme and to make Australia take our apples.
    None of this represents any issue of sovereignty because a future New Zealand government can always pull out of any international treaty if they don’t think it is any longer in NZ’s interest (this also addresses vto’s concern above). In the case of the existing TPP agreement between NZ, Singapore, Chile and Brunei, withdrawal procedures are outlined in article 20.8 – see the link above.
    Having said all this, it is largely academic because I very much doubt the TPP will ever be concluded, especially now Canada is involved (and there is also talk that Japan will join too, which would be the end of it).

    • vto 17.1

      Oh, well thanks Mr Hooton, will consider and add to the mix alongside Kelsey and others.

      And to add some raw emotional anecdote and instinct in with the legalities and correct procedures … I don’t trust the participants. Especially not anything where corporates have input and rights (and the corporates bidders too). We have been let down by so many in different myraid ways over the years that something like this goes right to the top of the “watch out” list.

      Watch out!

      • vto 17.1.1

        Mr Hooton, on further thought this is not right … “None of this represents any issue of sovereignty because a future New Zealand government can always pull out of any international treaty if they don’t think it is any longer in NZ’s interest (this also addresses vto’s concern above). ”

        My point concerns entering the agreement, not leaving it.

        The point still stands and hasn’t been answered. This government does not have the ability to enter NZ into this TPPA for the reasons outlined above.

    • muzza 17.2

      I guess you know more about it than Kelsey then…Phew just as well, for a minute there I though you were the professor, and or invovled in the negotiations.
      Signed in secret, ratified, select committees, congress..

      If its such a good deal then why in secret Hooten!

      Run along child!

      • Matthew Hooton 17.2.1

        I think I probably do.
        Also, its not really all that secret. See, for example, http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/2-Trade-Relationships-and-Agreements/Trans-Pacific/1-TPP-Talk/1-TPP-talk.php
        The only secret part is the current negotiating text, and that is the case for almost all international negotiations (and perhaps all of them) until a broad agreement is reached.

        • Robert Glennie 17.2.1.1

          Trade agreements, Mr Hooton, have a degree of suspicion about them because the public are not allowed to see the text. We only have the promises of politicians who don’t necessarily share the same ideals as their constituents do, that they will not betray New Zealand.

          It is further not helped by silly comments from the Minister of Trade about things like Pharmac possibly being cut down to size (last year). It is not helped by deals with countries such as China which employ bullying tactics to get what they want.

          There is, Mr Hooton, a very good reason why New Zealand First is back in Parliament. Because like Labour, National cannot and should not be trusted.

          • Matthew Hooton 17.2.1.1.1

            I agree it would be better if the text were publicly available, but that is not a decision New Zealand gets to make unilaterally because there are at least 10 other countries involved and, in some of them, like the US, trade liberalisation is much more politically sensitive than it is in NZ, where we don’t have any farm subsidies or trade barriers anyway, so can only win from any deal. It is very unlikely NZ would ever get all the other countries to agree to a more transparent process.

            • Tom Gould 17.2.1.1.1.1

              Matthew, “where we don’t have any farm subsidies”? You are kidding, right?

  17. Jenny 18

    On a historical note, we’ve been here before. I recall a similar agreement being proposed, and the same issues being discussed, many years ago (probably 1990s). We were wise enough to drop that proposal (or modify it into an acceptable form). But I can’t recall the name of that proposal, thus I can’t find any details about it and the discussions that NZ had at the time. Anyone out there with a better memory who can point me in the right direction? Cheers.

    ANTHONY R0BINS

    MAI the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. Sank with out trace, torpedoed by world wide outrage when it’s intention to give multinational investors power over democratically elected governments was publicised globally on the still relatively new internet causing a world wide reaction.

    The campaign against the MAI was the first ever global internet campaign. The leading internet activist against the MAI in this country and indeed globally was the late Janice Graham.

    The TPPA is the MAI reborn reborn for the 21st Century. The difference, the much greater level of secrecy of its content. The only reason for this secrecy, to defeat the ability of the internet to expose this conspiracy to the world and to head off global outrage until it is to late.

    Scandalously our government has agreed to this secrecy in refusing to let the world know what is being agreed to until after it is signed.

    In my opinion the conspiritorial nature of this agreement deligitimises this agreement. Making it incumbent on any opposition party to publicly announce that on gaining the treasury benches they will abolish and cancel all commitments made in secret without the knowlege of parliament as a whole.

    • r0b 18.1

      That’s the one – thanks. Will go and brush up on my history…

      • Jenny 18.1.1

        Before the age of Facebook or even blogsites. There were online chat forums. The anti MAI forum was the “Mai Not” list.

  18. I think our moral authority has somewhat flown the coop? We signed an FTA with China; you know that hanging, firing squad, reeducation camp authoritarian regime.

    I’m not sure why Canada entering will sink it; they already have NAFTA in place, and probably view this as an extension. Japan on the other hand; that’s laughable.

    • freedom 19.1

      Redfred, are you saying you are comfortable getting back in bed with a country that has openly authorized assassination of its own citizens anywhere anytime, uses depleted uranium on civilian populations, incarcerates civilians indefinitely without charge or trial, has sold its health sovereignty to Big Pharma and lets Monsanto dictate what it eats whilst sending robotic drones to kill anyone who was born a male in an area that is deemed a security risk to the bloodlust of Oil Oligarchs, all the while spending 59% of its budget on Military and Defense?

  19. Two weekends ago in the Sunday Star-Times, I submitted the following letter regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement:

    On Thursday morning I woke to the news that the Minister of Trade has said that under the
    so called Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement it is okay for companies overseas to sue New
    Zealand if they think our laws are hindering their ability to make a profit.
    I cannot for the life of me see how this can possibly be good for New Zealand. I cannot
    possibly see how for the life of me this respects our sovereignty, and when Australia, a
    country that is often more pro-United States than New Zealand has the balls – and brains –
    to stand up for itself and say “no”, that is saying something.
    The Minister of Trade is supposed to promoting policies that make it easier for us to export
    products made in New Zealand overseas. I don’t recall it ever being okay for a Minister of
    the Crown to commit economic treason.
    —-

    Where is the sort of spine and courage in New Zealand politicians that lead to us taking a stand on nuclear weapons?

    In this National-led government it is non-existent. In Labour it is not much better.

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