The argument that S92A is needed for free trade agreements

March 2nd, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

is quoted in the Herald as saying:

“I completely understand where people are coming from on both sides of the debate,” says Joyce – speaking before the delay was announced – “but there are some wider trade-offs for the country around this stuff as well.” Overseas trade agreements require New Zealand to have such a law, although he thinks the Labour-led government, which passed the Act in its dying days, went too far.

Several people have made this argument, but it is overlooking a rather salient point – namely that we do not have an FTA with the United States – in fact we are not even in the queue to have one. And as far as I know, no current FTA or treaty requires us to have such a law.

So let us look at what will happen, if one day the US does sit down to negotiate a FTA with NZ. It is quite correct that the US will demand our laws reflect the demands of their intellectual property industry.

But think of the damage we have done to our negotiating ability, by already giving them everything they wanted – before we even are in the frame for an FTA.

If we ever do get to negotiate an FTA, this is what you want:

US Govt: Now we turn to your intellectual property laws. We want you to force ISPs to terminate Internet users who we think infringe from our struggling Hollywood music and movie studios.

Tim Groser: Well that will be very unpopular back home. Our Government would get a lot of flak for that.

US Govt: But this is crucial. We insist that you have such laws.

Tim Groser: Well I can try selling this to Cabinet and Parliament, but I need some real wins to counter it.

US Govt: Like what.

Tim Groser: Well this will piss off around 80% of NZ – every NZers who uses the Internet. That is around 3 million people. Now you have only 1.2 million beef farmers and 1.5 million sheep farmers, so if you agree to all tariffs on beef and lamb disappearing by 2015, then I think I can sell this back home.

US Govt: Good try. We can’t do 2015, but how about lamb goes to zero tariff by 2018 and beef by 2023.

Tim Groser: I think we have a deal

You get the general idea. You don’t give away one of your strongest negotiating points, years in advance of even negotiating the . That is not in NZ’s national interest.

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9 Responses to “The argument that S92A is needed for free trade agreements”

  1. dime (10,100 comments) says:

    Obama doesnt like free trade. Look at the shit he caused with the EU.

    We wont be getting a deal with the US anytime soon.

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  2. Lou (43 comments) says:

    We have an fta with China, just signed one with ASEAN, right? and we’re going after one with India, that’s about half of humanity, so would someone please explain to me why an fta with the US, who produces much the same stuff for their people that we produce, is made to seem like the Holy Grail of FTAs! I just don’t get it, really I don’t. Forget the US or, as Amercans would say, Move On.

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  3. aardvark (417 comments) says:

    But we *DO* have an FTA with China right?

    So it’s very important that we align our copyright laws with those of China where… um… er…

    Nah, I got nothing :D

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  4. Trevor Mallard (248 comments) says:

    I’m also interested in hearing from people who have references to different approaches to copyright. One of the questions we need to consider is whether an approach which is closer to the US or Europe might work better for NZ than our current system which I understand is pretty closely alighned with Aussie

    [DPF: I think we do need to look at Europe as a model. The US model is difficult to replicate here as they have a constitutional right to fair use through the 1st amendment. What would be good would be to have a first principles review of copyright law (ie not just an amendment act) based on today’s economy and society.]

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  5. peterwn (3,302 comments) says:

    Alas – this is a problem. Lobbying corperations pay big bucks in USA to get shonky legislation on the books, the circumstances are sometimes such that this amounts to corruption. They then also lobby the US Government to coerce other governments to pass the same undemocratic shonky legislation in exchange for free trade agreements.

    With regard to intellectual property this often is the 21st century version of the ‘Enclosures Act’ where common land was seized by law for proprietary use.

    Australia really got taken for a ride with this a few years ago with the legislators only realising what was happening when drafting the laws to implement this. Only then did it stare to dawn that Australia had virtually let go of billions of dollars of intellectual property rights, possibly far more than the value of the trad gained under the agreement.

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  6. dime (10,100 comments) says:

    Lets base what we do on France.. they managed to piss everyone off :P

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  7. Manolo (14,038 comments) says:

    You can read in today’s Dom Post the feeble arguments posited by the pusilanime Mrs. Tizard, the “brains” (surely, a gross exaggeration) behind this.

    The very shameless J. Tizard who could still make a return to Parliament.

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  8. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Free trade my arse, nothing is ever free and as long as we are an irrelevant speck in the Pacific ocean nothing is about to change. Why do we persist in getting sand kicked in to our faces. Treat all of our trading partners with courtesy and be even handed with each but why do we rush in trying to to sell our souls. Personally I would be very cautious dealing with the present US administration given some of the hooks in their stimulus bill.

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  9. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Couldn’t one say the same about No Nukes as a bargaining chip?

    With the ascendency of China & India, and the Pakistani/Iranian Nuclear programmes, perhaps in another few years the USA might become really quite keen to have a friendly port in the South Pacific for its warships or missile submarines…?

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