James Murray on the TPP

January 25th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

, TV3’s online editor, has done a very well researched and comprehensive blog post on the proposed TPP free trade agreement.

I am a huge supporter of free trade and my ideal simply consist of saying “You can sell our residents us anything you want that is legal and safe and we can sell your residents  anything we want that is legal and safe”. Of course then up to individual consumers what they choose to buy and import.

But free trade agreements are rarely that simple. They have a mixture of good and bad stuff in them. Overall the ones we have signed have been massively beneficial for New Zealand such as CER and the China FTA. But that does not mean all future ones will be. Murray points out some areas of concern in the :

Hughes points out that proposed changes to law could see the international term (the author’s life plus 50 years) extended for another twenty years.

This would mean that no new works would enter the public domain in any of the countries signed to the TPP until 2033.

To steal a quote from the analysis linked to above – lengthening copyright terms would “impose severe costs on the American public without providing any public benefit. It would supply a windfall to the heirs and assignees of dead authors and deprive living authors of the ability to build on the cultural legacy of the past”.

What would this mean for publishing in New Zealand?

Books by James K. Baxter, Dame Ngaio Marsh and Ronald Morrieson, all soon to come into the public domain, would stay in copyright.

The US in 1998 increased the term of copyright from 75 years to 95 years, partly at the lobbying by Disney to stop early works entering the public domain. This was in my opinion not needed, as would still be a trademark owned by Disney and not able to be used by others.

Critics of the TPP point out that the agreement spelled out in the leaked document would lead to a situation where pharmaceutical companies would be able to extend on medicines more easily and also delay generic drugs from hitting the market.

It is a balancing act about when you allow patented drugs to become generically available. Too early and you freeze up investment to invent new better drugs. Too long a period, and you have people paying a lot more money for the drugs. I’m not convinced the current balance is wrong and needs changing.
Ever picked up a camera or mobile phone from a Parallel Import shop for less than an approved supplier?

According to the analysis provided by infojustice.org this could become a thing of the past as a consequence of Article 4.2 of the leaked document would be an international legal requirement “to provide copyright owners an exclusive right to block parallel trade”.

National allowed parallel imports in the late 90s, despite opposition from Labour. Luckily they never changed the law, so we still have it. It would be a bad thing to lose it.
Now it should be said that as far as I know NZ negotiators are fighting against all these provisions. That is a good thing. However for there to be an agreement eventually compromises will be necessary, and the Government will weigh up what they concede against the benefits of any concessions from the US on dairy, beef and lamb access.
Whether or not the TPP is a good or a bad thing for NZ, will come down to the details of what is in it. As James Murray has pointed out, the US is pushing for some stuff which would not be good for New Zealand. I hope the Government stays firm on these.
Tags: , , , , ,

13 Responses to “James Murray on the TPP”

  1. dog_eat_dog (780 comments) says:

    New Zealand retailers are fighting to have GST added to all overseas purchases, be they DVDs not stocked in this country or a gadget that is hundreds of dollars cheaper. Something tells me they’d be very happy to see parallel importing wiped out – anything that threatens their precious captive market is worth fighting against, competition or consumer standards of living be damned.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. samtheman (40 comments) says:

    The problem with free trade is that it’s rarely free – the big nations set the agenda while the small ones fight for the scraps. I don’t suppose the US are planning to remove their agricultural subsidies, but they would like us to grant more monopoly power to big Pharma.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. berend (1,708 comments) says:

    No “free” trade with the US, it’s not a free country, and as a small country we will always lose to the crony capitalists over there. I rather would spend the money to get free trades with South America or Africa.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Scott Chris (6,133 comments) says:

    David Farrar says:- “I am a huge supporter of free trade and my ideal free trade agreements simply consist of saying “You can sell our residents us anything you want that is legal and safe and we can sell your residents anything we want that is legal and safe”

    So what if the products being imported are government subsidized for instance? Wouldn’t that be unfair to local producers?

    Personally, I think Switzerland has taken the right approach and simply worked out bi-partisan trade agreements rather than entering into blanket agreements like NAFTA.

    So if beef from country X has a 20% subsidy, you could in all fairness protect your local beef industry by slapping on a 20% import tariff. Yup, good old reciprocal protectionism.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    We’re not going to get a free trade deal with the US, even when we’ve done exactly what the US media companies want. Our S92a hasn’t helped, arresting Dotcom won’t help.

    They don’t care, and they probably don’t want a free trade agreement. They’re in a bit of debt themselves, and I get the feeling that the majority of American voters don’t want to “lose even more jobs” to Nu Zeelanders.

    We should give up trying, or only accept on our own terms. I wish a political party would show some guts in this, and tell them where to stick their laws.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. kowtow (8,439 comments) says:

    Free trade is fine if it’s with free countries which have open and free economies. That definitely excludes China.(and probably alot of others too)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Free trade is fine if it’s with free countries which have open and free economies. That definitely excludes China.(and probably alot of others too)

    Would like to clarify what you mean – DPF has a few times cited figures showing $ exports to China before and after the FT agreement where exports have gone up massively, are you saying this hasn’t been beneficial to NZ?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. simonway (387 comments) says:

    This was in my opinion not needed, as Mickey Mouse would still be a trademark owned by Disney and not able to be used by others.

    Others would be able to use Mickey Mouse (early designs, at least – presumably later revisions would have a later copyright) without Disney’s permission, but they would not be able to use Mickey Mouse in advertising or marketing, as this would be trademark infringement. Compare with, say, Hewlett-Packard’s “HP” trademark – I can write HP wherever I like, but I cannot start a computer business that advertises with the letters “HP.

    The Captain Marvel case acts as a helpful guide here. DC Comics purchased the company that created Captain Marvel (the big red guy with the lightning bolt on his chest), so DC Comics owned the copyright. They published comics using the name of the character, and so they also had a trademark on the name “Captain Marvel”. After WWII, superhero comics dropped in popularity, and sales declined. The Captain Marvel comic was cancelled. After some years, the trademark on the name lapsed. Marvel Comics seized on this opportunity to create their own “Captain Marvel” character (an alien with cosmic powers), and published comics using the “Captain Marvel” name. Marvel has held the trademark ever since, and so DC is forced to publish its own Captain Marvel comics using the “Shazam” name (Shazam being a secondary character in the comic books, as well as the magic word used to activate Captain Marvel’s powers).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. kowtow (8,439 comments) says:

    stephen
    What I said is quite clear. I’m not saying that NZ exports have not benefitted,quite obviously some sectors have done very well out of Chinas’ emergence from behind the bamboo curtain. That does not change the fact that China is not a free and open economy.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    The issue with imposing tariffs on imports is that they’re mathematically equivalent to taxes on exports (from a balance of trade perspective).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    @Scott Chris

    So what if the products being imported are government subsidized for instance? Wouldn’t that be unfair to local producers?

    I used to have this argument with folks about French cars (back in the day when owning anything French wasn’t popular in NZ). I always used to argue that every Peugot cost the French govt about $1000, and a) every one that we buy takes us closer to bankrupting them, and b) if they’re dumb enough to subsidise me buying a car, why would we try to stop them?

    In short, if they want to subsidise exports to us, why would we care? Our people can move on to making something else, and we’ll take their subsidy. When they go bankrupt and stop subsidising, we can move back to making what we were before, and we’ll be richer in the amount of the subsidy.

    Free trade (for imports) is always in your own advantage, even if you unilaterally remove tariffs and subsidies. Basic economic truth.

    On parallel importing – I see this as very important to retain. At the moment, you can buy many products from online stores in the USA at lower than the wholesale cost in NZ. Parallel importing acts to constrain that, and therefore to help retaining in NZ survive. Without parallel importing, people will just buy stuff on the web.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Viking2 (11,467 comments) says:

    I woul;dn’t hold you breath waiting for Uncle Sam to lighten up. Uncle sam is a bully and getting worse. But it’s fast goin broke soin a couple more years of Obama they will look a lot like Greece.
    Obama said today the no way was he going back to the polices that caused the failure of banks., apparently meaning the Repubs.
    Problem is Clinto and his cronies were responsible for those policies.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Wetfootmammal (32 comments) says:

    IMO FTAs simply put us on the fast track to a ‘New World Order’ despotic one world government. If you don’t know this you’re just ignorant, but much of the blame for that can be laid at the door of the msm.

    Just one piece of evidence should be enough to stop people from rubbishing this idea.

    A quote from David Rockefeller’s autobiography ‘Memoirs’ –
    6-11-6

    “For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will.

    If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

    http://www.rense.com/general71/amaz.htm

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote