Patrick Smellie writes 10 things he says TPP opponents don’t want you to grasp:
- The secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations is typical of any such exercise.
- The bogey of corporations being able to sue governments is not only overblown, but corporations can do that now, without a TPP.
- Corporations might try to sue but they’ll be whistling if the government is acting in the public interest.
- United States corporate interests are obviously among those seeking influence on the TPP agenda, but that doesn’t mean the US Senate and Congress are on board.
- US politicians know less about what’s in the TPP negotiating documents than US corporate lobbies.
- No-one knows what the TPP could be worth to the New Zealand economy
- The US on the backfoot on many of the most contentious issues
- This is the end of Pharmac. Balderdash.
- The deal will be done behind closed doors. It can’t be. Every Parliament of every country involved will have to ratify any deal signed by leaders.
- There’s no guarantee TPP will come in to land.
It is quite legitimate to oppose some of the things that the US (especially) is asking for in the TPP, I am strongly opposed to many of their proposals for the intellectual property chapter. But there is a difference between opposing some of what the US is asking for, and demonising the TPP negotiations as a whole.
Matthew Hooton makes a similiar point in his Cunliffe’s Four Fails:
Mr Cunliffe’s fourth fail was over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) about which Labour has been fully briefed by the government, through Mr Goff.
Pandering to the Greens, Labour’s radicalised membership and Auckland anti-globalisation activist Jane Kelsey, Mr Cunliffe called for the TPP negotiating text to be released.
The good news is that Mr Cunliffe accepts this can’t happen while negotiations are under way and that the text should remain secret until it is finalised.
He says, however, it should be released two weeks before it is “signed.”
It is difficult to know what Mr Cunliffe – who claims, implausibly, to be “a former New Zealand trade negotiator who worked on the GATT negotiations and bilateral trade agreements” and to have “represented the New Zealand dairy industry overseas in many markets and on many occasions” – even means.
He cannot seriously be proposing that New Zealand unilaterally release the text without the agreement of the other parties. That would see New Zealand excluded from all further international negotiations on any topic.
He must also know there is no two-week gap between a treaty being “finalised” and it being “signed.” At trade minister level, they are the same thing.
Trade agreements are negotiated under the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. When trade ministers do reach agreement, there is seldom even a formal signing ceremony. Instead, the agreed text is released as part of a communiqué and each country then decides if and when it will ratify it.
For the TPP, the US Congress has not granted President Obama fast-track negotiating authority, reserving the right to re-litigate each clause. The text will be debated in detail in our parliament and media. While the cabinet holds the formal ratification power, Parliament retains the right to legislate over the top of it.
It could be a long time – even years, if other TPP countries have difficulty ratifying the deal – between a final TPP text being publicly released by trade ministers and it ever being finalised and ratified to come into force.
If he really ever were a trade negotiator, Mr Cunliffe would surely know this.
Matthew is a former press secretary to a Minister of Trade Negotiations.