The TPP IP chapter

November 14th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Secret details of the United States-Pacific trade agreement have been leaked showing New Zealand in serious dispute with US negotiators on many issues.

These include internet freedom, access to affordable medicines, protection of New Zealand industrial innovation and ownership of native plants and animals.

After 3 years of intense negotiation and with political calls for an agreement by Christmas, New Zealand and the US are still far apart in key areas.

The UK-based WikiLeaks organisation has obtained the crucial “intellectual property” chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and released it exclusively to the Herald and Mexican, Chilean, US and Australian media.

Ha, not sure how exclusive it is. The text is on the Wikileaks website here.

The 95-page draft includes some of the agreement’s most contentious issues, such as copyright, patent and pharmaceutical rules.

It contains more than 250 references to New Zealand supporting or opposing particular clauses. In about 60 cases, New Zealand supports the US position. But in most cases the US and New Zealand are opposed to each other’s proposals, usually with several other countries agreeing with New Zealand.

It’s good to see NZ negotiators sticking to the NZ position of not agreeing to any changes that would require a change in NZ intellectual property laws. That may change of course as ultimately an agreement involves compromise, but who has to compromise often comes down to where the majority of countries are, and the fact several other countries back the NZ position is good.

The Creative Freedom Foundation met the NZ Chief Negotiator last week, and have a good blog post on some of the issues. The issue NZ may be weakest on is opposing an extension of term of copyright from Life+50 to Life+70. Personally I think it should be no more than Life+20.

Angela Strahl, who is handling the IP chapter, stated that NZ’s Parallel Importing abilities are likely to stay unchanged, as is the ability to set our own limitations and exceptions to our domestic Copyright law. However, it was strongly hinted at that an extension of our Copyright Term is inevitable.

As Walker put it: only three of the twelve countries involved in the negotiations currently have a Life + 50 copyright term (NZ, Canada, and Japan); no-one has signed a trade agreement with the US that hasn’t included at least a Life + 70 year copyright term; and if you were to place a bet on what way NZ was going to go, those are some pretty big odds.

The term of copyright is less important to me than maintaining parallel importing and being able to set our own limits and exceptions to copyright. If we have to compromise on something in the IP chapter, I guess that is the least bad option arguably. But I hope enough other countries support the NZ position and we can hold firm. The idea of copyright is to encourage innovation. Life + 70 in no ways encourages innovation more than Life + 50. And as the CFF say, has detrimental effects.

Back to the Herald story:

A large section reveals the battle between the US pharmaceutical lobby and countries such as New Zealand that want to continue to buy cheaper generic medicines. The US negotiators have inserted several pages of measures to help maintain and extend the dominant position of big pharmaceutical companies. Only the US supported these proposals while Australia, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei opposed them in full.


The NZ negotiators are doing good work according to the leaked text. May they keep it up.

And I just have to respond to this piece of nonsense from Phil Goff:

The debate over the negotiations should have been revealed by the Government and not left to be exposed by Wikileaks says Labour’s Trade spokesperson, Phil Goff.

Goff is being malicious here. Goff is a former Trade Minister. He of all people knows that the NZ Government would be kicked out of the TPP and never allowed into any trade negotiation again if it unilaterally released the text. I can accept this sort of hysteria from Jane Kelsey, but again Goff knows what he is saying is bullshit. Never in 10,000 years would he as Trade Minister do what he is now calling on this Government to do.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think there should be more transparency, and that at suitable intervals draft texts should be released. But this is not a decision NZ can make by itself. It’s like declaring that the one member of the UN Security Council can make decisions on behalf of the other 15.

It is good and noble to call for more transparency. It is an act of partisan fuckwittery to demand that the Government unilaterally release the text. Goff knows this. I do agree with him in one area though:

“In all trade negotiations parties make demands that they don’t expect to be accepted. All negotiations inevitably involve compromises. But New Zealand negotiators should remain staunch in their opposition to demands in the intellectual property area which appear to favour vested interest groups in one country to the disadvantage of others,” Phil Goff said.

That I agree with.

17 Responses to “The TPP IP chapter”

  1. wikiriwhis business (5,174 comments) says:

    As I asked, if the TPP is so good why is it so secret?

    The media aren’t asking this very valid question

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  2. Lance (3,821 comments) says:

    Phil who?

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  3. nickb (3,765 comments) says:

    Having been in Parliament for longer than I have been alive, why does Phil Goff think he is still relevant?

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  4. In Vino Veritas (171 comments) says:

    Goff would say that though. Firstly, his job is on currently on the line, so he needs to appear to be a bit tougher and since it seems to be the way Labour are going, nastier. Secondly, given that Labour and the Greens have constantly barked about the Government “giving away” NZ law and rights, they’ve had their pathetic ill-informed rhetoric rammed back down their collective throats by the release of this information.
    As with all of the left, take away their unearned moral superiority, and they have absolutely nothing.

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  5. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    Goff is exactly right.

    Why should TPP detail be a secret?

    If the TPP is good for New Zealand, let people know about it.

    Personally, I think New Zealanders prefer $3 prescriptions to $35 ones. Tell me if you think I’m wrong.

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  6. srylands (1,251 comments) says:

    “Goff is exactly right.

    Why should TPP detail be a secret?”

    How many times do you need to have this explained to you?

    “Never in 10,000 years would he as Trade Minister do what he is now calling on this Government to do.”

    What did you not understand about this?

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  7. Reid (21,423 comments) says:

    There are several discomforting things with these negotiations which haven’t existed in other FTAs:
    1) the extreme secrecy which goes beyond what is usual plus the rumoured arrangement that once it’s negotiated there is no opportunity for the respective parliaments to review the clauses prior to voting
    2) the fact the US position is derived not from the US political process which factors in numerous interests but rather exclusively from corporations which explains 1) since [not all but some particularly US corporations seem to think they’re a law unto themselves] but doesn’t excuse it
    3) the fact the US economy is dying and in 20 years will be a shadow of a shadow of its former glory (it’s already a shadow now) so why pray tell are we so keen to trade our sovereignty for that?
    4) the fact this is the Key govt’s piece de resistance in terms of its foreign policy achievements which makes it more likely it will trade off vital areas just to seal the deal
    5) reinforced by the fact NZ was one of the founding partners and its grown since we started, but the fact we’re one of the initiators adds to the likelihood of 4) occurring.

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  8. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    @Reid – Well said.

    In the unlikely event we see a TPPA ratified, I am confident Cunliffe will shred it.

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  9. srylands (1,251 comments) says:

    “In the unlikely event we see a TPPA ratified, I am confident Cunliffe will shred it.”

    Would you also like to see us withdraw from APEC?

    I can see in 20 years the highlight of our international engagement will be the Pacific Islands Forum.

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  10. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    @srylands – I don’t think APEC is on the mind of most New Zealanders. There are more than 200,000 starving children and vast majority of the population are classified as the working poor.

    Maybe you could take a trip over the Harbour Bridge and visit South or West Auckland – chat about APEC in the pub – see how far that gets you.

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  11. Fentex (3,312 comments) says:

    Negotiators shouldn’t break agreements to secrecy, but neither ought they agree to keep all negotiations secret in the first place.

    Negotiate in private where speech is not restricted by fear of misquotes and misrepresentation and arguments can be forceful, but what policies are being negotiated, what ambitions are promoted by the parties should be published routinely so that public oversight of representative governments can function.

    Reviewing this document I continue to believe that there is no TPPA likely to satisfy all parties and it would not be worth the price to New Zealand of joining it.

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  12. ex-golfer (342 comments) says:

    Sam, Sam, Sam
    You’ve gone off topic again but I can’t let your continued lies go by.
    Please provide irrefutable evidence that there are 200,000 “starving” children in NZ.
    When one thinks that 87% of households in NZ have Sky Tekevision I struggle to see how 200k kids can be “starving”.
    What’s your definition of “starving”?
    Or do you mean 200k kids are being poorly parented and neglected?

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  13. wikiriwhis business (5,174 comments) says:

    “Personally, I think New Zealanders prefer $3 prescriptions to $35 ones”

    That is worth repeating

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  14. srylands (1,251 comments) says:

    “I don’t think APEC is on the mind of most New Zealanders.”

    Well it is not on my mind most days either. I am nevertheless aware of its importance in facilitating trade and investment. You seem to take pride in the fact that your comrades don’t have a clue about these issues. APEC has more influence over their lives than the Waitangi Tribunal and the UN.

    And BTW there are not 200,000 starving children in New Zealand.

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  15. ex-golfer (342 comments) says:

    Also Sam, the part-charge for subsidised prescriptions is $5 not $3, and by using a Prescription Subsidy Card no family pays any more than $100 per year.

    I asked you in GD for evidence of your claim that imported medicines will increase in cost by 700% as a direct result of the proposed TPP.
    You have not responded.
    Surely you have evidence of your claims Sam?
    Or are you afraid if letting fact get in the way of your fantasy?

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  16. wreck1080 (5,016 comments) says:

    labour cannot tolerate agreeing with national even if they do agree with them.

    I guess that’s why Goof is being a tool.

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  17. OneTrack (4,602 comments) says:

    Goff is exactly right.

    Why should Labour party policy details be a secret?

    If the Labour party policies are good for New Zealand, let people know about it.

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