Dispelling TPP myths

Both and dispel some myths.

Finny in the Herald looks at the false information abut TPP and the Treaty:

Former MP Hone Harawira has stated some complete falsehoods about Trans Pacific Partnership, Maori and the Treaty of Waitangi.

This coincided with publication of a paper by “experts” Dr Carwyn Jones, Associate Professor Claire Charters, Andrew Eruti and Professor Jane Kelsey on “Maori rights, Te Tiriti O Waitangi and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement”.

Days later several Maori elders spoke negatively about the TPP at Ratana and were joined by a bevy of political leaders.

This criticism of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) forced me to reread a big chunk of the TPP and previous free trade agreements and to study every element of the criticisms being levelled against the TPP and Maori.

My conclusions are radically different from the critics’. I believe that rather than being inadequate in its protections for Maori, TPP is if anything a taonga in the way it protects the rights of the New Zealand Government to discriminate in favour of Maori.

This in turn, I think, adds enormous mana to Maori.

Finny has actually read the TPP, and he makes the point NZ is unique in getting protection for the indigenous people in there:

TPP is an agreement between 12 countries. Pretty much all the 12 jurisdictions are home to indigenous minorities – for example, the First Peoples of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, the Aboriginal people in Australia, the Malays in Singapore and Malaysia, and the Ainu in Japan.

Yet none of these peoples is mentioned in the main text of the deal and none of their Governments has secured agreement from the other members that they should be allowed to discriminate in favour of them.

And further:

TPP’s protection of the Treaty goes even further than earlier FTAs. It states “the parties agree that the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, including as to the nature of the rights and obligations arising under it, shall not be subject to the dispute settlement provisions of this agreement.” This means it is entirely up to New Zealand to determine if any discrimination has occurred because of the treaty (so long as this is not a disguised restriction on trade).

I am frankly amazed the US and others have agreed to this provision. Our ministers and officials have done a great job achieving this. All Maori should be saying: “Well done!”

treaty

This image shows the China FTA Treaty clauses and the TPP Treaty clauses.  Again the difference is Labour are just sulking because they didn’t conclude the TPP.

And on the wider TPP issues, Stephen Jacobi responds to Andrew Little’s letter on the TPP:

I agree that the dairy aspects of TPP are not as good as they could have been and as we had hoped. But they are in the view of the negotiators and the dairy industry the best that could have been achieved in the circumstances. Dairy still benefits more than any other sector from tariff cuts in key markets and the establishment of new tariff quotas. The meat deal – specifically beef to Japan – is a significant market opening about which the industry has welcomed. Without this we will not be able to compete with Australia which already has an FTA with Japan. To call the rest “not much” is a serious underestimation – tariff reductions and/or elimination for horticultural products including kiwifruit, wine, wood products and seafood cannot so easily be dismissed. Addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers for manufactured products such as health technologies and agricultural equipment is also significant.

And he deals with Little’s claim one of their bottom lines was not met:

Labour’s clearly signalled “bottom-line” for TPP was it should provide for restrictions on land sales to non-resident foreigners. This is possible under TPP: a future Government could if it wished apply a stamp duty or other tax to restrict these sales. Opinion is divided on whether an outright ban could be introduced, but there is a ready alternative to meet Labour’s policy position.

Labour could set 100% stamp duty of sales to foreigners. They could set it at 10000%. It’s a different method to achieve the same result.

TPP does provide for our partners to make their views known on any measure which may be introduced that could have an impact on trade. But these provisions are far from “unheard of”. They are already enshrined in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other FTAs concluded by Labour including the China FTA. They are what make it possible for New Zealand to be consulted on changes affecting our exports to other markets such as subsidies under the Farm Bill or a discriminatory labelling or levy system. Importantly these provisions retain the right of the Government to continue to regulate: the Government may have to listen to the views of trading partners but not necessarily heed them. Bottom line is we do this already and have been doing so for years now.

Almost every international agreement has a provision about consultation, such as the Antarctic Treaty.

Little- “For instance we would have to let Carlos Slim, the wealthy Mexican telecom company owner, vet any regulation of our telecommunications industry.”

Not quite. The Government is required to publish notice of its proposed changes as it does in the Official Gazette, but not advise everyone personally. Mr Slim may offer comment if he wishes. The Government still decides.

So basically the requirement is to publish things in the Official Gazette. This is so trivial, I can’t believe Labour are seriously citing this as a major issue.

The reality is Labour are only against TPP because National concluded the negotiations. If they had been Government they would have got the same deal (or worse) and would be proclaiming it as a great success, as they did with the China FTA (which they did and was). They’re just sore losers because they’re in opposition.

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