Who’s Running the Show? and in Whose Interests ?

The Campaign Against Foreign Control
and
Anti Bases Campaign
Election Year Speaking Tour

Copy of New Picture (27)

Putting People at the centre of the Economy – from Dunedin to Kaitaia, and many places in-between

> People’s Rights Before Corporate Profit
> Public Service Not Private Profit
> An Independent Foreign Policy
> No Unjust Secret Treaties

These topics include

> transnational corporations’ tax avoidance
> corporate welfare
> asset sales
> spying abuses by the GCSB/NSA
> the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)
> Five Eyes
> plus plenty more

These are among the most important issues facing the country.

They underlie everything else that the people of this country are concerned about.

Any campaign, electoral or otherwise, that doesn’t include them is missing the point.

We need an independent Aotearoa based on policies of economic, military and political self-reliance, using Aotearoa’s resources for the benefit of the people of Aotearoa.

This country needs People Power to let the world know that Aotearoa is not for sale!

The full itinerary is at: www.tinyurl.com/cafcatour

 

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It’s Our Future NZ: TPPA News Bulletin # 46 – 2 March 2014

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION 

JOIN THE NATION – SAY ‘NO’ TO THE TPPA

New Picture

After four years, the corporate deal of the century – aka the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – is still being negotiated in secret.

The TPPA puts our sovereignty at risk, violates our democratic right to decide our own future, and wastes taxpayers’ money that should be spent on social, not corporate, welfare.

It needs to stop. Now.

The National Day of Action Against the TPPA on 29 March will mark the fourth anniversary and send the government a message – Stop the TPPA!

Join the rallies, marches and events in your area. If there’s nothing happening, start something yourself. If you do organise something people get in touch with us through chris.zack@gmail.com or webadmin@itsourfuture.org.nz in case we know of something else being planned and can put you in touch with others.

Initial sponsors are itsourfuture, the FIRST Union, Tertiary Education Union. More are in the pipeline and will be posted on the website.

Chris Zack is the national coordinator of plans for the Day. He will help people make contact with each other. Contact him on chris.zack@gmail.com or webadmin@itsourfuture.org.nz.

Contacts and details will be posted on the itsourfuture.org.nz website and facebook pages, as well as in the next bulletins.

Leaflets, posters, placards, stencils for banners will be on the website for you to adapt.

There will be some national media. Itsourfuture will promote local events through out networks. Bomber Bradbury has volunteered coordinate the social media through Daily Blog.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT NOT EVERYONE DOES FACEBOOK.

Funding is scarce so we are afraid that events will have to be self-funding.

There are organising meetings this week in:

Wellington, Wednesday 5 March, evening, details contact: koruconsulting@xtra.co.nz

Auckland, Thursday 6 March, 4-5pm at the University: details contact  chris.zack@gmail.com

Palmerston North Council votes for pre-release of TPPA
Great work by Sue Pugmire and Warwick Smith in Palmerston North to get the Palmerston North City Council and Horizon Regional Council adopt resolutions that demand the pre-release of the TPPA:

That the Council resolves that:

That PNCC send a letter, before 28th February 2014, to the Prime Minister asking him to submit any agreement that NZ reaches in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations to the scrutiny of Parliament including consideration by a select committee, with time to fully debate it, before a democratic decision is made on signing the agreement, and that the letter to the Prime Minister be copied to all councillors by 7th March 2014.

Malaysia’s Trade Minister promises to release TPPA text before it is signed

At the end of a detailed media briefing on Malaysia’s position on the TPPA on 20 February, the Trade Minister Mustapa said the draft text of the TPPA ‘will be released to enable detailed scrutiny and public debate before any final agreement is signed.’ That would be unprecedented for Malaysia. If Malaysia can do it, why can’t we?

Latest Singapore TPPA Ministerial Meeting Fails

After 10 days of meetings of officials and trade ministers the latest round of TPPA talks ended in deadlock.  Not because the 29 chapters are stuck. They are almost all finished. Only 4 chapters are still subject to serious negotiations: intellectual property, investment, state-owned enterprises and environment. But they are all really important for NZ.

US-Japan standoff on agriculture – nothing for NZ?

The Singapore meeting failed because the US and Japan can’t agree on access for US agribusinesses to Japan. That stalemate could continue. But it could also fall over very quickly. Even if it does, there would be few gains, if any to NZ and the costs would be high. Grsoer said he would walk away of that happened. And pigs may fly. See Jane Kelsey’s analyses: DomPost and NZHerald.

TPPA puts cancer medicines at risk

Cancer specialist Dr George Laking and Dr Papaarangi Reid warned about the impact of the TPPA on medicines for cancer, diabetes and other ‘biologics’. Their op ed reported a rumour that the ministers in Singapore would give Big Pharma new monopoly rights for 8 years over these medicines. The hold-up on agriculture meant they didn’t make a decision, but it’s waiting in the wings.

What else could happen with Pharmac

The two-pronged attack on Pharmac includes a ‘transparency’ annex that gives the drug companies more leverage. New reports suggest the latest version may adapt the Australia-US  FTA. Australian academic Deb Gleeson explains what that means for Pharmac.

TPPA threat to smokefree policies to the fore again

Malaysia’s attempt to carveout tobacco related policies from the TPPA has not yet been decided on. There were suggestions of a counter-move – a limited exception to the investors’ rights to sue. But that wasn’t tabled in Singapore. ASH in the US posted a media release, linked to a briefing paper by Jane Kelsey.

Jacobi from NZ US Council defends the indefensible economic study

After Geoff Bertram and Simon Terry thoroughly debunked the Peterson Institute claims about massive benefits to NZ from the TPPA, the US NZ Council executive director Stephen Jacobi was still trying to claim in the DomPost that it was ‘robust’. Time to wave the white flag Stephen!

Washington Post explains Corporate America’s hold on the TPPA

See ‘Trade deals a closely held secret, shared by more than 500 advisers’, Washington Post, 28 February 2014, including graphics showing which corporations and lobbies influence what issues.

New Song by Democracy v TPPA by Sue Pugmire!

http://soundcloud.com/suepugmire/democracy-vs-tpp

Media reports:

RadioNZ Morning Report, post-ministerial interviews Lori Wallach, Tim Groser, Jane Kelsey

Paul Krugman, No Big Deal, New York Times, 27 February 2014

Jon Edwards, Getting the balance right on medical patents, ABC Australia, 25 February 2014

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It’s Our Future NZ: TPPA news bulletin #45

January was TPPA downtime but a lot is happening now that is really important! 

TPPA ministers meet again in Singapore 22-25 Feb
The TPPA ministers will meet in Singapore 22-25 February, and officials before that from 17 Feb. It has been secret squirrel stuff again, presumably to avoid people reporting on what they are up to, as happened last December. Pressure is ramping up again.

There will be some simple action around the ministerial – watch your emails!

Local rallies against the TPPA
Lots of activists have begun organising local events against TPPA to build up awareness. Great work on 8 Feb! There are more on 22 March. Click for facebook contacts for Whangarei, Hokianga, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston NorthNapier, Whanganui, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Geraldine, Queenstown. Organisers – please remember not everyone is on facebook and send details to the contact page of itsourfuture.org.nz so we can post details on our website and facebook. Maria Peach took the initiative to make her own ‘bumper sticker’ on her back window!

Seven countries’ lawmakers call on Groser et al to release the text.
Senior MPs from seven TPPA countries have signed an open letter calling for release of the text before it is signed to allow effective analysis and debate. Signatories include the Vice-President of Peru, leaders of the Greens in Canada and Australia, trade spokesperson for NDP in Canada, and the leaders of NZ First, Green, Maori and Mana parties. NZ is the secretariat, so Tim Groser should take the lead and get ministers to drop the secrecy.

Labour puts Parliamentary motion for release of TPPA text
Labour came off the fence and formally supported release of the TPPA text. Their parliamentary motion seeks release of the text two weeks before it is signed. It’s a start, but 2 weeks is barely time to scratch the surface, let alone have a meaningful debate in public and Parliament. Despite that, National still said no. This mirrors the Australian Labor Party motion that passed the Senate, but the Abbott government has ignored.

EU releases draft text, so why can’t TPPA countries?
Who says you can’t negotiate these agreements in public? The EU and US are trying to stitch up a similar deal called the TTIP. The EU says it will release its draft investment chapter for consultation because of ‘unprecedented concern’ and won’t agree to the secrecy rule.

NZ study debunks claims of $5 billion gains for NZ
Economist Geoff Bertram and the Sustainability Council debunked the Peterson Institute report that TPPA cheerleaders rely on to claim of $5 billion gains to NZ. See summaries by Brian Fallow and Gordon Campbell, the Employers and Manufacturers nonsense reply and Sustainability Council rebuttal. The PM has downgraded his claims to $2-3 billion gains – still shonky but shows what a finance dealer can do with numbers …

Geoff Bertram and Terence O’Brien talk on TPPA, Wgtn 28 Feb
Register here to hear Terence O’Brien and Dr Geoff Bertram discuss the political and economic implications of TPPA at 5:30pm on Friday 28 February in Connolly Hall, Guildford Terrace, Wellington, hosted by Fabian Society.

Kiss goodbye to US Fast Track this year, if ever
Obama has been downplaying the TPPA in the US Congress and public. It wasn’t mentioned directly in his State of the Nation address. Nor did he push Congress to give him fast track authority to get any final deal through Congress intact. That’s because of huge kickback in Congress. Democrats don’t like fast track or the TPPA. The politician in charge of scheduling floor time in Congress for the fast track bill to be heard said that won’t happen before November. Why, then, would any TPPA ministers do a deal with Obama before then?????

Key & Obama’s game of golf
John Key’s speech at last week’ Australia-NZ bunfight showed what a pushover he is on our behalf. He accepted that Obama may not get fast track for TPPA, so the US Congress can pick it apart. AND that Congress may not approve the TPPA itself when it comes to a vote. BUT NZ should rush into a deal as soon as possible, otherwise it may not happen. Duhhh!

Wikileak of Environment chapter
The draft Environment chapter was leaked in mid-January. It showed how weak any protections for the environment would be, especially compared to law suits by mining, forestry, fisheries and other companies when government’s regulate in ways that affect their profits. Another document exposed the strategy being used to marginalise opposition among various delegations, where chairs draft texts that ignore all the detail negotiated over the past three years. The Sustainability Council summed up what it means for NZ.

On the road to Waipu Cove
New Picture (4)

TPPA threat to packaging tobacco

The plain packaging law was introduced to Parliament this week. The government won’t stand up to tobacco companies – instead it won’t pass it until challenges to Australia’s version are over. US industry is making threats. TPPA would give investors more ammo to shoot it down but the government won’t support Malaysia’s carve-out of tobacco from the rules. Mana, Labour expressed their outrage.

Protests against TPPA in North America and here
In Canada, US and Mexico there was an Intercontinental Day of Action to mourn the 20th anniversary of NAFTA. TPPA=NAFTA on steroids, so go figure …

Protests against fast track saw over 40,000 phone calls and 600,000 emails to Congress!

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National Government loses $5 billion-plus fig leaf for TPPA

fig‘The fig leaf of over $5 billion in gains to the New Zealand economy from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has been stripped away’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey, a long-term critic of the proposed TPPA.

The Sustainability Council of New Zealand has just released an evaluation of the study by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics that Prime Minister Key and National ministers have relied on.

The review, led by Wellington economist Dr Geoff Bertram, concludes that the Peterson Institute’s study has greatly exaggerated the projected gains and ignored the financial and intangible costs. Only about one quarter of the projected gains are backed by a credible economic methodology and the Peterson Institute ignores the many fiscal and regulatory downsides.

On the information available, they doubt there is a net benefit to New Zealand from the TPPA.

Their analysis is consistent with the criticisms that Australian Productivity Commission made in 2010 about similar studies on the Australia US free trade agreement and other bilateral deals.

‘Several years ago trade minister Tim Groser dismissed the value of such modelling, and predicted “wearily” that a study would emerge to claim mega-gains for the TPPA’, Jane Kelsey observed.

‘Despite Groser’s scepticism, his own government has used the Peterson Institute report to rally support for a deal that many New Zealanders see as toxic.’

fancy‘When the Prime Minister started producing ever-higher projections, I speculated some fancy footwork was going on,’ Kelsey said.

‘We are indebted to Geoff Bertram and the Sustainability Council for explaining the technical reasons why these figures have no credibility.

‘Politicians know that ballpark figures that promise enormous gains make headlines, even if they lack substance. That now has to stop’.

Professor Kelsey reiterated the call for a full and independent cost benefit analysis of the monetary costs and benefits, and the constraints on New Zealand’s sovereignty, before any deal is signed.

Media Release from Jane Kelsey

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The TPPA & the Environment ~> the Wiki leak

Today, 15 January 2014, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text for the entire TPP ppp(Trans-Pacific Partnership) Environment Chapter and the corresponding Chairs’ Report. The TPP transnational legal regime would cover 12 countries initially and encompass 40 per cent of global GDP and one-third of world trade. The Environment Chapter has long been sought by journalists and environmental groups. The released text dates from the Chief Negotiators’ summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013.

The Environment Chapter covers what the Parties propose to be their positions on: environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in ‘environmental’ goods and services. It also outlines how to resolve enviromental disputes arising out of the treaty’s subsequent implementation. The draft Consolidated Text was prepared by the Chairs of the Environment Working Group, at the request of TPP Ministers at the Brunei round of the negotiations.

When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures. The dispute settlement mechanisms it creates are cooperative instead of binding; there are no required penalties and no proposed criminal sanctions. With the exception of fisheries, trade in ‘environmental’ goods and the disputed inclusion of other multilateral agreements, the Chapter appears to function as a public relations exercise.

New Picture (o)Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ publisher, stated: “Today’s WikiLeaks release shows that the public sweetner in the TPP is just media sugar water. The fabled TPP environmental chapter turns out to be a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism.”

The Chairs’ Report of the Environment Working Group also shows that there are still significant areas of contention in the Working Group. The report claims that the draft Consolidated Text displays much compromise between the Parties already, but more is needed to reach a final text. The main areas of contention listed include the role of this agreement with respect to multilateral environmental agreements and the dispute resolution process.

The documents date from 24 November 2013 ─ the end of the Salt Lake City round. They were requested by the Ministers of the TPP after the August 2013 Brunei round. The Consolidated Text was designed to be a “landing zone” document to further the negotiations quickly and displays what the Chairs say is a good representation of all Parties’ positions at the time. The WikiLeaks Consolidated Text and corresponding Chairs’ Report show that there remains a lot of controversy and disagreement within the Working Group. The Consolidated Text published by WikiLeaks is not bracketed, as per the IP Chapter released in November 2013, as it is drafted by the Chairs of the Working Group at their responsibility. Instead, the accompanying Chairs’ Report provides commentary on the draft Consolidated Text and is the equivalent of bracketed disagreements for the countries that have not agreed on certain Articles, and provides their positions.

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. This is the third in the series of Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) leaks published by WikiLeaks.

Further reading: TPP Environment Chapter
•Analysis by Professor Jane Kelsey, New Zealand here
Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Series so far:
• TPP Intellectual Property Chapter here
• TPP Agreement Documents here
• TPP Environment Chapter Consolidated Text here
• TPP Environment Chapter Working Group Chairs’ Report here

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Sorry Minister “Trust Me” doesn’t wash!

It’s Our Future NZ<~>TPPA News Bulletin #44 19 December 2013

Groser - trust me doesn’t wash!

Our campaign ‘It’s not democracy, and it’s not right’ demanding release of the draft TPPA text saw 26,000 signatures on an e-petition or letters to political leaders, and lots of education. Thanks to all the celebrities, sponsors, producer and film crew, scriptwriter, designer, media booking agent, advertisers, and everyone who took part.

New Picture

TPPA ministers cave to US in Singapore

Trade ministers from the 12 countries met in Singapore from 7-10 Dec. It was intense. US-led pressure tactics began from day 1. Their closing statement tells us nothing. See Jane Kelsey’s blog and a short video summary of what happened. All we heard from Labour was Phil Goff: NZ would be winner in TPP. The ministers plan to meet again in late January, probably in London after the mega-corporate bunfight, the World Economic Forum in Davos. The tradeoffs will continue unless we stop them! Watch for action plans in next bulletin, facebook and website.

Two new Wikileaks expose sellouts

Internal documents from a country inside the negotiations were leaked to Wikileaks on the 3rd day of the Singapore meeting, and analysed in Huffington Post. A chart exposes major divisions before the ministerial, and showed Australia already sold others out on aspects of medicines. A leaked commentary confirmed US heavying to get TPPA deal.

Groser sells out Pharmac in Singapore

The leaks showed NZ had held firm until Singapore. On the final day the Washington Trade Daily reported all countries except one (not NZ) had dropped objections to the US intellectual property chapter, for nothing in return. This came after Pharmac’s annual review stressed its savings to NZ. Jane Kelsey has decoded Groser’s glib assurances.

Bill English says NZ’s role is to get US over TPPA line

The speech by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to the Trans-Tasman leadership forum urged the US to show leadership to complete deal ‘because if they don’t they will lose standing in the Asia Pacific region’. As their long-term allies Australia and NZ ‘would prefer that doesn’t happen, so we will be talking about what we can do to help them get over the line’.

5 NZ political parties support release of the text

The Greens, Labour, MANA, the Maori Party and NZ First all gave great speeches and Q&A at a press briefing linked to the ‘It’s Not Right’ petition. There are good quotes from each. The press conference clashed with Banks’ prosecution, GCSB leak, Rena report, so please send the link so people know where the parties stand.

Australia and Chile’s politicians call for release of text

The Australian Greens successfully moved a motion in the Senate to order the production of documents, being the final text of the TPPA, before being signed off by Cabinet. Sadly the government can ignore the motion. The Labor Opposition’s trade spokesperson and leader in the Senate Penny Wong said ‘Labor believes the full text of any proposed TPP should be released well before it is signed’. In Chile, 34 deputies and 15 senators in the nation called for transparency in the TPPA. So has new President Bachelet.

Avaaz poll

Online campaigners Avaaz polled four countries, including NZ, confirming the December results. 70% of Kiwis oppose an agreement that would limit access to generic medicines, with only 18% supporting it; 56% were opposed corporations having the right to sue the government, with only 25% in support; 71% said it was not acceptable to keep the deal secret until it was signed, with 10% supporting secrecy; and over half concluded the deal was a threat to democracy, a quarter did not know, and only 21% said the deal would benefit NZ.

Australian poll

A Poll by the Australia Institute showed most Australians not aware of the TPPA but 87% want to see the text before it is signed, 85% are opposed to ISDS when it is explained, and 67% don’t trust the Federal Government assurance that Free trade agreements won’t increase the cost of medicine. It looks like the campaign there is beginning to fire.

Team TPPA still misleads on Parliament’s role

The misinformation that Parliament has the final say on the TPPA continues. Mr Fixit Stephen Joyce said so during Parliamentary Questions, then admitted to Russel Norman next day he was wrong. Cabinet that controls the whole process. Keith Locke’s Daily Blog explains how he tried to change this. Jane Kelsey issued a plain language explanation of the process. Sadly, pro-TPPA lobbyist Stephen Jacobi continued to mislead on Morning Report with a ‘clarification’ that was still wrong.

New Picture n60 prominent public health experts tell Ryall to protect health in TPPA

Sixty New Zealand health academics and practitioners sent a strong message to the government that public health must not be sacrificed on the altar of the TPPA when trade ministers met in Singapore – which it ignored. Health Minister Tony Ryall said he sent the letter to Groser! No ministers will take responsibility for the impacts on their portfolios.

US Congress fight against Fast Track Continues

The TPPA still has big problems in the US. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman and senior Democrats told Obama not to rush any deal and reminded him that Congress has the final say. Criticism continued after Singapore. New stories say a fast track bill will be introduced in January that would mean Congress could only say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’. It will be a dog fight.

Aust and NZ govts duplicitous on tobacco plain packaging

Despite promoting plain packaging tobacco, the Wikileaks documents show both Australia and NZ have refused to support a carveout of tobacco from the TPPA proposed by Malaysia.

Followup to Wikileaks IP leak

OpenMedia has produced a new infographic, to explain what life will be like under the TPPA’s Internet censorship chapter.

Ominous: Australia sells out on investor disputes in Korea FTA

Australia’s Liberal government has agreed to investor-state dispute settlement, which had been holding up its FTA with Korea. This is an ominous signal that Australia will consider giving away its opposition to investor state enforcement in the TPPA if the price is right.

Heaps of Media!!!!

  • Hone Harawira, TPPA Secrecy – What it Really Means For Our Nation, 3 Dec 2013
  • Jane Kelsey, Scene set for quick and dirty trade-offs on TPPA in Singapore, 3 Dec 2013
  • Matt Robson, The TPPA and the Promised Land: a critique of the Fran O’Sullivan doctrine, Daily Blog, 3 Dec 2013
  • Burcu Killic: Standing up to drugs industry the best medicine, NZHerald, 6 Dec 2013
  • Bryan Gould: Speak up – we can resist the powerful, NZHerald, 6 Dec 2013
  • RadioNZ, Its crunch time as TPP talks head to Singapore, 6 Dec 2013
  • Brigitte Tenni, US concessions don’t give Trans Pacific partners access to drugs, The Conversation, 6 Dec 2013
  • Editorial, NZ Listener, Undue Influence (paywall), 7 December 2013
  • RadioNZ Insight, Pacific Rim Trade Deal Angst, 8 Dec 2013
  • Vietnam, other developing nations could lose as US seeks largesse for Big Pharma
  • Alexandra Phelan & Matthew Rimmer, TPP draft reveals surgical strike on public health, EastAsia Forum
  • Deb Gleeson, The TPP negotiations could be a bitter pill to swallow for Australian, The Guardian (Aust) 6 Dec 2013
  • Deb Gleeson, What you need to know about the Trans Pacific Partnership, The Conversation, 6 Dec 2013 and 12 Dec 2013
  • John Roughan: Groser going for gold today, NZ Herald, 7 Dec 2013
  • Simon Terry: Govt must resist foreign tribunal demands in TPP, NZHerald, 11 Dec 2013
  • Radio NZ Morning Report on Singapore outcome 11 Dec 2013: Groser, Kelsey, Jacobi
  • Brian Fallow: Mystery surrounds trade deal talks, NZ Herald, 12 Dec 2013
  • External experts gave a series of press conferences in Singapore on agriculture, meds, investment, copyright, SOEs, videos here.

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New Huffington Post leaks expose major divisions, US heavying to get TPPA deal

Two internal documents from a country inside the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations have been leaked to Huffington Post and published this morning under the headline ‘Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Political Powers In Secret Trade Deal’. fi2hwbp0

The leak comes during the third day of the TPPA ministerial meeting in Singapore, where the 12 countries said they wanted to close the deal.

Both documents – a chart outlining the positions of each of the twelve countries on most of the major issues being discussed in Singapore, and a brutally frank account of the substantive developments around the Salt Lake City round late last month – expose deep political and substantive tensions inside the talks.

A scan of the chart of country positions shows the US out on a limb on many crucial issues, from rules on medicines, protection for of to cut hot money flows to prevent or address a financial crises and a raft of new rights for foreign investors.

‘These polarised positions make US strong-armed tactics even more worrying’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey who is monitoring the negotiations in Singapore.

‘Stories of bullying that I reported from Salt Lake City are born out by this insider account. The country’s predicted that US pressure would “increase with every passing day”.’

‘Mediocre’ progress in Salt Lake City was blamed on the lack of any ‘perceivable substantive movement’ by the US, which created an ‘uncertain scenario’ for Singapore. ‘even leaving aside the more complex issues (IP, SOEs and Environment), demonstrates a situation that makes it very difficult to think of a complete closure in December’.

The US was holding back on making offers on market access for agriculture until the Singapore ministerial, despite a series of ‘milestones’ for tabling offers that were to be reached before Singapore.  New Zealand, along with Canada, Chile, Australia and Peru were reported to be frustrated with the US approach and a continued lack of transparency

The US had also been dominating the agendas of the chiefs and the sector groups, determining what versions of documents are discussed and marginalising dissenters. For example, it had produced a ‘non-paper’ on intellectual property in Salt Lake City, which it insisted form the basis for discussions on controversial medicines issues.

The chart and narrative docugffgments lay out the positions of each of the twelve countries on almost all the outstanding issues up for decision in Singapore, including New Zealand’s.

‘Read alongside the intellectual property text that Wikileaks posted last month, these leaked documents give us a much clearer sense of what our government is doing inside the talks, even though it refuses to tell us’, Kelsey said.

‘Knowing the government’s position, and how it lines up with other countries, allows us to hold the government to account now, and if they sell out further in a final deal.’

There are some worrying positions. For example, New Zealand is not supporting other countries that want a general exception that deals with public health, environment, public morals to apply to the entire investment chapter, including the powerful rights that investors rely on to sue the government. The exception itself is weak, but governments are further disarmed in the face of foreign investors without it.

More analysis will follow once there is time to digest the documents.

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Salt Lake TPPA negotiations end with growing desperation

glubglub2major controversies remain unresolved as desperation grows to cut a ‘deal’ at Singapore Ministerial  December 7-10 

‘Claims that trade ministers are close to a final deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) seem incredible, given the long list of matters that remain unresolved after a week of intense negotiations in Salt Lake City’, according to Professor Kelsey from the University of Auckland, who was in Utah monitoring the talks.

Trade ministers from the twelve countries are threatening to make a deal, in secret, when they meet in Singapore from 7 to 10 December.

‘The US is not going to agree to anything it can’t sell to the Congress, especially without Fast Track negotiating authority. That suggests any deal will run roughshod over the long held opposition of a number of countries to US demands’, said Professor Kelsey.

Trade-offs threaten to impact on a wide raft of significant non-trade matters, including affordable medicines, Internet freedom, financial regulation, investor-initiated disputes against governments, data privacy, and more.

Officials from the 12 countries worked day and night in Salt Lake City to narrow their disagreements on a dozen chapters that are yet to be completed. Remaining matters were referred to the chiefs to try to resolve or sent forward to trade ministers to decide in Singapore.

Ministers are expected to announce they have reached agreement on specific ‘landing zones’ for the long list of outstanding issues and require officials to conclude the texts by early 2014.

‘That may be bluff, disguising yet another missed deadline at the end of 2013. Almost every politically sensitive issue that has arisen in three years of negotiations – and which were the reason why every previous TPP deadline was missed – has still not been resolved’, Kelsey observed.

‘But the sense in Salt Lake City was that the ministers are deadly serious about this being the “end game” ’.

‘Whether the outcome is cosmetic or real, Tim Groser and his counterparts are bound to the spin it with claims of great benefits and minimal costs for every country, including New Zealand,’ Professor Kelsey warned.

‘Without access to the text, how are we to assess and contest those claims?’

Professor Kelsey urged ‘everyone who has concerns about the TPPA to make their voices heard by the government, opposition parties – especially Labour – and influential interest groups to ensure that a quick and dirty deal on the TPPA is not done in Singapore.’

Also in the news

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IT’S OUR FUTURE NZ TPPA NEWS BULLETIN #42

New Picture (7)

Last chance to sign TPPA secrecy petition
The petition calling for release of the draft TPPA text closes off at the end of Tuesday 12 November. The total with one day to go is 24,238! Brilliant work in just 6 weeks – and a level of awareness and concern for all parties to take note of.

Crunch meeting in Salt Lake City on 19-24 November
A special round of TPPA talks is being held with chief negotiators and the groups that are stuck – IP, SOEs, investment, maybe some others. They will prepare a platform for the trade ministers to do their trade-offs when they meet in Singapore from 7-9 December. The pressure from the US will be intense, so there is high risk of terrible compromises.

Goff’s rear-guard action at Labour Party Conference
Team TPPA will be delighted that Phil Goff staved off two strong resolutions at the Labour Party’s conference. One, to oppose the TPPA, became:
That Labour currently withholds support for the TPPA on the grounds that:

  1. the government has not been adequately transparent in the process;
  2. the government is taking unacceptable risks on a range of matters including the ability of companies to sue the Government and the role of Pharmac;

Labour therefore withholds support for the TPPA until full details are made available and there is clear evidence that the agreement is in the best interests of New Zealand.
The second, for the release of the draft text, was defeated after Goff told them Parliament still got to vote after the fact! Of course, if the text is not released before it is signed, Labour will be faced with a fait accompli, whatever the costs to NZ may be.

NZCTU President resolute on TPPA
Helen Kelly’s speech as President of the NZCTU to the Labour Party conference reiterated their conference decision: ‘we oppose it because it is a model that goes in a directly opposite direction from what I have been describing as what New Zealand needs. That neoliberal model has been tried and failed in New Zealand and is a relic of pre-global financial crisis thinking.’

Peters’ speech strangely conciliatory on TPPA
Having taken a strong oppositional stance on the TPPA, Winston Peters took a more conciliatory approach in a speech to the Institute of International Affairs, saying: ‘The devil will be in the detail and we should be looking at the detail with a fine tooth comb!’

Chile’s likely new leader promises to review TPPA
Leading presidential candidate for Peru’s November election, Michelle Bachelet, has promised ‘an exhaustive review of its scope and implications’ in order to safeguard the interests of Chile.

US still hinting at two-tier deal on meds: NZ loses out
On 1 November the US hinted again at a ‘flexible’ approach on IP and medicines for developing countries (which means Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei). Still bad, but nowhere near as bad as ‘developed countries’ – ie NZ. Leading Congressmen oppose the compromise as giving away too much.

US Chorus shareholders could sue under TPPA
Chorus’s US shareholders could easily use the proposed TPPA investment rules to sue the government for mega-millions if the Commerce Commission’s ruling on broadband pricing stands and the agreement is in place by then. A quarter of Chorus’s shareholders are foreign. JP Morgan Chase holds 8% of the shares and entities related to Citibank and Citicorp control around 3%. TheDomPost says Chorus should be renationalized – imagine what they could do with that under TPPA!

Labour’s Patsy Parliamentary Questions
Some Labour MPs have been lobbing very soft parliamentary questions to Groser, who is feeding back the same old vacuous assurances. A debunk of the patsy questions Goff asked Groser and waved around at the Labour Party Conference will go up on itsourfuture.org.nz in about a week. Meanwhile look at the new memo showing the threat from the TPPA to core policies Labour cares about.

Buy NZ under pressure in WTO, worse in TPPA
NZ is trying to join the WTO agreement on government procurement. The other countries, including TPPA parties Canada and japan, are demanding NZ makes more concessions to bind more SOEs and local governments to the rules. What they can’t get at the WTO they’ll insist on in the TPPA.

South Africa quits investment treaties like TPPA
While National defends investment rules in the TPPA, the South African government has reviewed similar investment agreements and moved to terminate many of them. It says they pose growing risks to policymaking in the public interest. Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz applauded South Africa’s stand, describing the agreements as the most serious threat to democratic decision-making.

USTR is a customer of the NSA spies
The New York Times reports that the US trade ministry is one of the NSA’s customers – presumably so it can see what other countries are thinking and its opponents are planning!

Canada’s medicines to cost more under Canada-EU FTA
A new study warns the pending EU-Canada trade deal will further tilt the balance towards the protection of brand-name drug manufacturers and their profits and away from Canadian consumers—resulting in significantly higher drug costs for Canadians.

Media Commentary

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South Africa quits investment treaties, NZ wants to sign more … lucky Chorus?

While New Zealand politicians portray these investment rules as benign, other countries are trying to extricate themselves from them

While New Zealand politicians portray these investment rules as benign, other countries are trying to extricate themselves from them

Chorus’s US shareholders could easily use the investment rules proposed under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to sue the government for hundreds of millions of dollars if the Commerce Commission’s ruling on broadband pricing stands and the agreement is in place by then, says Professor Jane Kelsey of The Auckland University Law Faculty.

JP Morgan Chase holds 32 million or 8% of the shares. Entities related to Citibank and Citicorp control around 13 million shares.

‘The mere threat of such a case would give the company huge leverage – and it would give National the excuse to back down on the Commerce Commission’s action or hand out further funds to Chorus’, Professor Kelsey said.

‘Even worse, it would undermine the credibility of Commerce Commission and similar regulatory actions against other firms with significant overseas shareholdings.’

Professor Kelsey accused the TPPA’s cheerleaders who are pushing for a deal in December of ‘playing Russian roulette with our regulatory sovereignty and taxpayers’ money’.

‘Phil Goff assured the Labour Party conference that the answers from Trade Minister Tim Groser to a list of parliamentary questions satisfied him that the TPPA’s investment chapter would not undermine New Zealand’s right to regulate in the national interest.’

‘Groser’s answers were carefully constructed to appear to give assurances while avoiding the crucial issues. As a former minister, Goff must know that’, says Professor Kelsey.

While New Zealand politicians portray these investment rules as benign, other countries are trying to extricate themselves from them.

South Africa is leading the way after a foreign mining company sued the government over post-apartheid laws that are designed to bring more equality to the lucrative industry, using very similar investment provisions to the ones proposed for the TPPA.

A review of South Africa’s investment agreements decided they are outdated and pose growing risks to policymaking in the public interest. The government has recently moved to terminate many of them.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz this week applauded South Africa’s stand, describing the agreements as the most serious threat to democratic decision-making.

A review of South Africa’s investment agreements decided they are outdated and pose growing risks to policymaking in the public interest

A review of South Africa’s investment agreements decided they are outdated and pose growing risks to policymaking in the public interest

South Africa is not alone. India says it will sign an investment agreement with the US only if the dispute-resolution mechanism is changed. Latin American countries are systematically reviewing their agreements. Brazil has deliberately never signed one.

Professor Kelsey said the complacency of Groser and Goff about similar provisions in existing agreements, such as with China, could also prove short-lived.

Late last year the first known investment dispute taken by a company from mainland China was lodged against Belgium. China’s second largest insurer Ping An held 5% of the shares in Dutch-Belgium bank Fortis, which faced critical problems in late 2008 and was nationalised, and then broken up. Ping An wants US$2.3 billion to match the indemnity payments for losses that Belgium paid to the European Union shareholders.

Labour thinks it protected New Zealand from similar challenges in the New Zealand-China FTA. Those protections were never robust, and the main one has gone. China’s investors now receive the more favourable treatment given to Taiwan’s investors in the new free trade and investment treaty with Taiwan. Both countries’ investors would be entitled to the more favourable rules in the TPPA once it was ratified.

Jane Kelsey called it ‘naïve and reckless’ to say New Zealand would not face such challenges. ‘We should follow South Africa’s example and revisit our existing agreements, and say no to the investment chapter in the TPPA,’ she advised.

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