Walker on TPP and soverignity

The Herald interviews the chief TPP negotiator for NZ, David Walker:

The first trade deal for which he was chief negotiator was the P4, the predecessor to the comprising New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile.

His first big one was the China deal in 2008, the first free trade agreement China had negotiated with an open economy.

While there were similarities between the China and TPP agreements, the China deal was less ambitious in trade in services than TPP, which also went further on intellectual property, and had more extensive treatment of labour and the environment.

“But in most respects we’re dealing with a similar range of subject matter in both agreements.”

The combination of having led the China negotiations and the TPP talks affords him the description of New Zealand’s most successful trade negotiator.

The China deal especially was a great success. TPP has not gained us quite as much, but it is much much harder to negotiate with 11 other countries, than one.

So what is his response to the claim that the TPP undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty? “An international treaty to my mind, it’s really sovereign countries coming together in the joint exercise of that sovereignty, deciding what they will do together, or what they agree not to do in concert with each other.

“And sometimes that is going to act as a constraint on individual action. That, in fact, is the purpose of the treaty-making process in the first place and that arises no matter what policy area the treaty is in respect of, whether it is an economic treaty or a security treaty or a human rights treaty.”

Little’s rantings about sovereignty are intellectually dishonest. The TPP no more impacts our sovereignty than the China FTA, the Kyoto Agreement, the Antarctic Treaty or the UN Convention against Torture.

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