Hooton on TPP Free Trade Deal

December 20th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

wrote in the NBR:

It’s ghastly writing anything that could be construed as support for the University of Auckland’s Jane Kelsey but the radical leftist has a point when she argues the negotiating text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should be released.

Her concerns are more the usual nonsense that a free trade agreement (FTA) could somehow stop the government from funding the Plunket Society. More real are concerns that, in their eagerness to do a deal, trade negotiators might undermine the true value of the TPP.

It’s a very warm day in hell when I agree with Jane Kelsey, but Matthew has a very valid point.

As the TPP’s founder, New Zealand should be absolutely staunch about who gets to join our club and the price of entry. There can be no compromise over agriculture, including dairy. If the US wants to enter our clubhouse, the terms are straightforward: ban all production and export subsidies, currently running at around $US20 billion a year for “farm income stabilisation” alone and eliminate all quantitative restrictions and tariffs. Only once those points have been conceded should New Zealand be prepared even to entertain the US’s complaints about intellectual property and competition policy.

A free trade deal which doesn’t require an end to agricultural protectionism (over time) isn’t worth doing. The US-Australia FTA was form over substance.

The fear is that it will be the other way around. New Zealand will agree to make immediate concessions, in exchange for the US agreeing to “work toward” the things we want, on an “agreed roadmap” but without any deadlines or even a timetable. Were that to happen, we’d no longer have the TPP as envisaged but just another Apec, doomed to drift and fail.

That is the fear. If we can get an end to agricultural protectionism, then yes we’ll have to concede in some other areas. But if we can’t get a “high quality” FTA, then we’re better leaving the TPP as it is, amongst existing parties.

The good news is that, on trade, Mr Key is absolutely staunch. When free-trade recalcitrant Japan asked about the club, Mr Key was unequivocal. If they were to join the talks, it would be on our terms or not at all. Agriculture had to be on the table and “sea anchors” weren’t wanted.

That was very welcome. I was amazed that a NZ PM was so blunt with Japan, but at least there is no room for misunderstanding.

To keep everyone honest, it couldn’t hurt for the negotiating text to be released. After all, a copy is held by the US State Department so it can only be a matter of time before it’s leaked to Wikileaks. Prof Kelsey, Julian Assange and Nicky Hager probably already have a copy. Better it’s released by the free-trade camp than by those three with their far-left spin.

I agree.

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9 Responses to “Hooton on TPP Free Trade Deal”

  1. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    rootn tootn hootn

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  2. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    http://adamsmith.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/pursuing-the-holy-grail/ which I wrote about over a month ago

    This issue re TPP is valid. Obama want a ‘deal’ he can wave at APEC next year. He does not want a quality FTA.

    We should play hardball, but suspect we will crumble. A quality FTA might be achievable if we were as intransigent over it as were were over nuclear arms.

    Maybe there is a precedent there Sort of Key to Obama “I can smell the subsidies on your breath>

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  3. Danny-boy (102 comments) says:

    It’s a very warm day in hell when I agree with Jane Kelsey …

    Presumably you’re referring to Stygia: the freezing cold layer of hell? :)

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  4. Jeremy Harris (323 comments) says:

    Given the Americans budget catastrophe they should be welcoming any and all measures to get rid of pointless subsidies, especially ones which have large percentages going to already very profiable corporations (which many of the US farm subsidies do)…

    Whenever business people ask for subsidies watch out consumers and taxpayers…

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  5. jackp (668 comments) says:

    I am not understanding this tpp. If the US looses money as a result of parliament passing laws, the US could sue New Zealand? If this is the case, wouldn’t the US be holding New Zealand at ransom? What would this do to pricing of generic , say, pharmaceuticals or vitamins?

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  6. Vincent Haring (13 comments) says:

    Jackp – if you are right, then NZ could also sue the US if its Congress passed laws hurting our businesses. On balance, NZ would have the better of that deal, as our parliament currently doesn’t pass laws to hurt the US, but the US congress passes plenty of laws that hurt NZ (like dairy and meat subsidies)

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  7. wat dabney (3,755 comments) says:

    if we can get an end to agricultural protectionism, then yes we’ll have to concede in some other areas.

    This is insane. You think recognising my right to trade freely with others is a “concession” to someone?

    These trade negotiations and agreements have you confused: all the NZ government has to do is unilaterally renounce every artificial trade restriction. That’s it: no summits, no trade blocs, no nothing (just pity the poor citizens of other countries whose governments continue to benefit politically favoured industries at the expense of the average consumer.)

    As Henry George said,”What protection teaches us is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.”

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  8. Pongo (371 comments) says:

    I was incredibly surprised and heartened by JK re Japan. I dont think the US is much better than Japan in their approach to free trade and subsidies, while its a big prize to get the yanks on board I dont have any faith that it will be done on NZ principles but on US ones which are pretty appalling in general and even worse under Obama.
    They are protectionists at heart and they have a big domestic market and lobby groups to protect for camapaign finance.

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  9. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Better it’s released by the free-trade camp than by those three with their far-left spin.

    But this view, that it’s better released voluntarily, applies to everything I’ve seen from Wikileaks!

    It makes such a change seeing Hooten halfway sensible. But he obviously watches far to much Fox, as evidenced by his labelling any view to the left of the Tea Party “far left.” Infantile stuff.

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