PoliticsOctober 6, 2015

Politics: 20 Perspectives on The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal


At something like 5am in the Coca-Cola city, the deal was done. The nations’ representatives had presumably been reduced to 12 hangry men – or, more precisely, 11 men and one woman – and after more than five years of negotiation, squabbling and secrecy, a Partenariat Transpacifique, as they like to call it on the boulevards of Quebec, transpired.

The text will be released within 30 days.

The deal struck in Atlanta, Georgia, includes the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia and New Zealand, which together account for roughly 40% of global GDP. Here’s the overnight Atlanta press conference, if that’s what you’re into:

The NZ Herald report can be found here; the most comprehensive summary of what has been agreed, albeit from an American point of view, is here. The NZ government roundup is here (PDF).

The talking is not done yet. Below, some of the voices in response, most of them excerpted (and now more than 20, sticklers).

Tim Groser, NZ Trade Minister

“It’s unquestionably a good deal. It’s not a perfect deal, let’s be clear about that. We really wanted a bigger dairy deal, in particular, but even on dairy it moves forward in a very positive way. And everything else bar one technical exception, it’s basically, longterm, free trade for everything New Zealand exports to the TPP markets concerned. So the medical bill that has come out of this is extraordinary small compared to what might have come out at an earlier stage of negotiation …

“We had to start up high, standard negotiation, nothing scientific about this, and we got what we could … Of course I would have wanted a better deal than this [on dairy], but at the end of the day … you take what you can get. It’s a simple reality of world politics … It still leaves us miles better off – as good as we can get and a big step forward for New Zealand.”

Via Radio New Zealand


John Key, NZ Prime Minister

“As a country, we won’t get rich selling things to ourselves. Instead, we need to sell more of our products and services to customers around the world, and TPP helps makes that happen. We’re disappointed there wasn’t agreement to eliminate all dairy tariffs but overall it’s a very good deal for New Zealand.

“We’ve seen with China how a free trade agreement can boost exports of goods and services and deepen trade and investment links. The overall benefit of TPP to New Zealand is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030. That’s more jobs, higher incomes and a better standard of living for New Zealanders.

“Many concerns raised previously about TPP are not reflected in the final agreement. For example, consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and the Pharmac model will not change. Now the negotiations have concluded, people will see that TPP is, overall, very positive for New Zealand.”

Via statement

Annette King, NZ Labour Party Acting Leader

“I think that it’s fallen short … What we need now is to pull apart the veil, open up to the New Zealand public on what exactly has been negotiated. We’ve waited long enough to know what’s happened in secret. So I say to the government do what the American congress and the US government is doing, they’re having 60 days of consultation with the US public and congress. It’s time for us now to know exactly what the benefits are … I believe that any government can renegotiate and review … We’re all grasping at straws. I watched that [Atlanta] press conference: it was fluffy, there was no detail.

“If the best Tim Groser can say is it sets a ‘direction of travel’ [on dairy] then it looks like a failure. We’ve missed the bus on our biggest export … TPPA is more than just a trade agreement. We have been very clear that we will not support it if it does not meet our bottom lines including meaningful gains for farmers, the ability to restrict house and land sales, protecting Pharmac and the ability to govern in the interests of New Zealanders.”

Via Radio New Zealand and statement

John Wilson, Fonterra Chairman

“We’re disappointed … It’s not the elimination of tarrifs which had been the undertaking and the expectation some years ago as TPP got under way and built out of the original P-4 …

“While the dairy outcome is far from perfect, we appreciate the significant effort made by Minister Groser and his negotiators to get some gains in market access for our farmers.

“Dairy has been very hard to resolve and New Zealand has managed to get some progress against the odds. Our team has done well to lift the deal from where it stood at the Ministerial meeting in Maui. While I am very disappointed that the deal falls far short of TPP’s original ambition to eliminate all tariffs, there will be some useful gains for New Zealand dairy exporters in key TPP markets such as the US, Canada and Japan. Greater benefits will be seen in future years as tariffs on some product lines are eliminated.”

Via RNZ and statement

Canadian dairy farmers

“Dairy farmers started celebrating quickly. The supply-management system appears assured for at least another generation, said the head of Dairy Farmers of Canada. It’s now survived two big international trade negotiations, including the one with Europe. And with no other big deals on the horizon, it appears the system of quotas and import controls is here to stay.

“’The TPP is good for Canada,’ said Wally Smith. ‘Farmers today in Canada are far more confident in their future… as opposed to always having a cloud over their head.’”

Via Canadian Press

Jane Kelsey, law professor, Auckland University

“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.

“Who gave the Prime Minister and Trade Minister the right to sacrifice our rights to affordable medicine, to regulate foreign investment, to decide our own copyright laws, to set up new SOEs, and whatever else they have agreed to in this secret deal and present it to us as a fait accompli? While Australia was fighting US demands on medicines, our government seemed to be lost in action and obsessed with selling more dairy.”

“Not only is a ‘dairy for medicines’ deal unconscionable – it is a total sellout. That’s even before we factor in the handcuffs on future governments in investment, SOEs, financial services, government procurement, and so much more… This is far from over yet. There are three months before the TPPA can be signed. The government’s ‘trust us’ promises were a sham and New Zealanders have been sold down the river. It is time for Opposition parties and ordinary New Zealaanders to force the government to step away, and make it clear to National that failing to do so will carry the ultimate electoral penalty.”

Via statement

James Shaw, NZ Green Party co-leader

“The TPPA is a bad deal because the costs will be worn by everyday New Zealanders while the benefits will go to private companies. New Zealanders are more likely to become tenants in our own land, because the TPPA slackens the overseas investment rules and takes away our right to limit overseas speculators from buying up our land.

“It’s becoming clear that it will be harder, take longer, and be more expensive to access next generation medicines in New Zealand and in developing countries. Multinational companies will be able to sue New Zealand if it takes action to protect our environment, for example strengthening the protection for the critically endangered Maui’s dolphins.

“Tim Groser can’t avoid the fact that the TPPA doesn’t actually break down trade barriers with markets like Canada, and it will be another 25 years before milk powder tariffs in the United States market are gone. Whichever way you look at the TPPA, it’s a bad deal.”

Via statement

Winston Peters, NZ First leader

“Although the details will remain sketchy for the next 90 days what can be said is that our dairy and meat industries have taken a real hit. The fact is we have failed on the crucial exports we rely on – dairy in to the American, Canadian and Japanese markets and beef in to Japan … Two of our critical primary industries, on which we rely so much, know that they have been sold out …

“New Zealand was promised a stretch limo and we’re getting a low-price sedan. What can be said now is that our over 40-year battle to get a surplus of exports over imports has just got harder.”

Via statement

David Seymour, ACT party leader

“This deal will be good for New Zealand. It will be even better for some of the developing countries involved, giving them access to developed markets and an opportunity to boost their living standards with faster growth.

“Now the deal is concluded the scaremongers can no longer make things up. They are faced with the reality that trade is a win-win, and are looking very silly.”

Via statement

Washington Post, editorial

The United States and 11 other nations concluded the long-awaited Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP, on Monday — demonstrating that it is still possible for this country to exercise world leadership, and to do big things in its own national interest, given consistent White House leadership and sufficient bipartisan support in Congress …

“What’s emerged from the talks suggests that the TPP will indeed live up to Mr Obama’s promise of a ‘21st-century’ agreement: one that anchors the United States in a key region for decades to come, while increasing the scope of trade policy beyond just tariffs.

“Difficult as it has been to reach this point, the last leg — final passage for the TPP in both houses of Congress during an election year — could prove even more difficult. Republican Donald Trump and Independent-running-as-Democrat Bernie Sanders have been whipping up protectionist sentiment against the TPP even before they knew what would be in it. Over the course of the next few months, the public and Congress will have an opportunity to pore over the pact. If its details prove to be as advertised, people are likely to conclude that the benefits of the deal outweigh its risks. For now, though, it’s enough to note the fact that Washington can still get something done, and to celebrate that.”

Via Washington Post

Asahi Shimbun, editorial, Japan

“[Of] concern is Japan’s promise to import certain amounts of rice and dairy products as part of the TPP deal. Japan proposed the approach to avoid the elimination of import tariffs on these products during its negotiations with major exporters of farm products, such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand. But it must not be forgotten that the primary objective of free trade talks is eliminating or cutting tariffs through negotiations.

“A similar system for rice imports has been in place for some time now. This is causing the nation annual losses of more than 10 billion yen. If the government keeps taking only stopgap measures to soften the damage of trade pacts to domestic agricultural industries, the financial burden on the public will increase without producing any real benefits for consumers. In coping with issues and measures related to trade liberalization, the government must stick to the basic policy principle that it should not take steps unless it can offer explanations that convince the public.”

Via Asahi Shimbun

Judit Rius Sanjuan, Doctors Without Borders Access Campaign

“Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (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.

“For example, the additional monopoly protection provided for biologic drugs will be a new regime for all TPP developing countries. These countries will pay a heavy price in the decades to come that will be measured in the impact it has on patients. As the trade agreement now goes back to the national level for countries’s final approval, we urge all governments to carefully consider before they sign on the dotted line whether this is the direction they want to take on access to affordable medicines and the promotion of biomedical innovation. The negative impact of the TPP on public health will be enormous, be felt for years to come, and will not be limited to the current 12 TPP countries, as it is a dangerous blueprint for future agreements.”

Via statement

Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald commentator

“Tim Groser’s brinksmanship in the final brutal hours of the marathon Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations secured New Zealand a deal on dairy. The Trade Minister had to swallow a ‘few dead rats’. But there’s still plenty of what Groser earlier termed ‘foie gras’ to make for a tasty trade package estimated to be worth $2.7 billion a year for NZ by 2030.

“Groser has not secured a gold-plated outcome – as far as NZ’s prime export is concerned – but considerable gains have been made through controlled market access for dairy to major consumer markets like the US, Japan, Mexico and Canada … The major regional trade deal lowers trade barriers in two-fifths of world economy and set the commercial ‘rules of the road’ for decades ahead.”

Via NZ Herald

Gordon Campbell, Scoop columnist

“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, 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 …

“President Barack Obama now has 90 days to convince Congress to ratify this deal. The TPP will face a Congressional vote in February, just as the US presidential primary season begins. Obviously, it will be harder for Obama to gain Republican votes at that time than a few months ago… when he won cross party for fast track trade authority. If the TPP vote splits more along party lines, more of the Democratic minority may rally to the President’s cause – but given that fast track authority only squeaked through Congress by a handful of votes, there is a real risk that the TPP will be defeated.”

Via Scoop

Dr Pat Neuwelt, Doctors for Healthy Trade

“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.”

Via NZ Herald

Nevil Gibson, editor, National Business Review

“Governments will be able to challenge fellow countries if they don’t follow through with working conditions established in the negotiations. Previously, most trade agreements only allowed countries to challenge another nation’s labour conditions if a country failed to uphold its own domestic laws or core international labour standards.

“Although Tim Groser is claiming modest economic gains from the get-go as tariffs come off, global economists see much bigger benefits. The Peterson Institute for International Economics forecasts a GDP increase of nearly $US300 billion a year. That is the kind of figure that the 12 nations signed up for and persuaded countries such as Japan and even Canada to over-ride long-standing vested interests.

“For once, trade ministers and their leaders were able to put these aside for the greater good. A glance at the opponents of the TPP reveals the spread of those interests and their narrow focus. In New Zealand, they were mainly from anti-capitalist groups and public health advocates. In the US, they included sugar farmers and tobacco industry unions.”

Via NBR ($)

Scott Champion, CEO, Beef + Lamb NZ

“The Japanese market has been our major focus in the TPP, especially as the competitive position of our beef exports in Japan has been negatively affected by the recent Australia-Japan FTA. Provided that the ratification process is completed quickly, the TPP agreement will ensure that New Zealand beef gets back onto a level playing field with its Australian competition in the Japanese market.

“We hope that other countries will continue to consider joining the TPP when they are able to meet the high standard that has been set. The New Zealand agriculture sector generates 62% of New Zealand’s goods exports. If that sector can capture greater value for New Zealand as a result of the TPP, that will lift the standard of living for all Kiwis and ensure that rural communities can prosper.”

Via statement

Grant Robertson, NZ Labour Party Finance Spokesperson

“The government promised meaningful gains, but the dairy industry is describing the outcome as disappointing. When reports from Canada say their protected dairy sector remains mostly intact, you know that is not a good sign. 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 … On first impressions, this deal falls well below National’s rhetoric of a gold-standard trade pact, and leaves many questions unanswered.”

Via statement

Phil O’Reilly, Business NZ CEO

“Multilateral trade deals are the only way to go for a small country like New Zealand. We’re now assured access to an influential group of trading partners in the pivotal Pacific arena, including the US and Japan. This has been a hard deal to conclude with all the competing interests. Concluding these deals requires all parties to make compromises.

“While we did not get all we wanted out of dairy access, sitting on the side-lines was not an option. This trade bloc represents 40% of world GDP. If New Zealand wants to broaden its economic base and move away from an over-reliance on selling commodity products to the world, we needed to secure a high quality deal that gives greater market access to both goods and services exports and one that encourages investment.”

Via statement

Robert Reid, First Union General Secretary

“The TPPA is a threat to our sovereignty. Under the deal our ability to legislate in the public interest is compromised. Companies who believe their profits or market privileges are threatened can sue our government in secretive overseas tribunals.

“Even on the government’s primary metric for success – dairy access – they’ve fallen remarkably short. Protected dairy markets remain mostly intact. The deal also locks in protections for big pharmaceutical companies with biologics patents, this means less competition and higher prices for Pharmac and ultimately New Zealanders. Working New Zealanders can have no confidence in this government.”

Via statement

Kim Campbell, CEO, Employers and Manufacturers Association

“This has been a long time coming and it is a momentous occasion to see this get over the line. I have strongly advocated that it’s much better to be part of the deal, than not. We look forward to seeing the detail of the agreement. Our negotiators and Trade Minister Groser are to be congratulated on finalising this transformative deal. Overall, we believe this is a significant move for our members, particularly our manufacturing sector … Agreement on the TPP is a significant addition to our suite of trade deals.”

Via statement

Jordan Carter, InternetNZ CEO

“Our understanding is that the electronic commerce chapter of the agreement creates new rules about the ability to require local presence of data stored for use by Internet applications. We will investigate this and the impact on local companies and the availability of applications further, as more detail is released. On the positive side of the ledger, it seems fears from a few years ago of major problems for Internet Service Providers have been avoided …

“As is the case with most trade negotiations, the TPPA has been negotiated in full secrecy. Such trade policy approaches are the opposite of how Internet policy is and should be made – in the open, subject to scrutiny, and open to everyone’s suggestions and ideas. Copyright, in particular, should not be subject to closed door deals. This approach breeds distrust and suspicion, halts participation and hands huge advantages to those with most to gain and most to lose – not usually the general public.

“InternetNZ will continue to be vigilant against any threat to the open Internet in New Zealand. We will also continue to reiterate our policy principles and our very reasonable expectation that all policy discussions relating to the Internet should be open and inclusive.”

Via statement

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Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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