TPP and the coalition of pragmatic change

The new Government has claimed to be a coalition of change, and there will be some significant changes. However the optimism of left wing activists may be tempered somewhat by the levels of pragmatism required in government.

The first mayor example looks like being the Trans Pacific Partnership, forced by a timetable already in place.

Fran O’Sullivan: Eyes of world on our Coalition of Change

The Ardern Administration is displaying considerable pragmatism in its first days in power.

Workarounds have already become the favoured mechanism as Cabinet Ministers marry their wish to deliver on election promises with the realities of running a government.

Ardern is a quick study.

…she was schooled by her predecessor the arch-pragmatist Helen Clark.

Hence, she sucked it up when Turnbull denied her request for New Zealand to settle 150 refugees from Manus Island here.

The more interesting diplomatic gambit was the agreement reached by the two Prime Ministers to use a mutual exchange of letters to guarantee the mechanism for settling investor disputes between companies and governments, instead of the mechanism laid down in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Like the earlier mechanism for achieving a ban on foreigners buying residential houses in New Zealand there is considerable diplomatic and legal craft involved.

Trade Minister David Parker and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will be outlining these subtle policy shifts when they meet their counterparts in Vietnam ahead of the Prime Minister’s own visit for the Apec Leaders Meeting.

If all goes to plan and the TPP-11 is agreed by the relevant Apec leaders it will be a triumph for Ardern and Parker. They will be able to argue that National did not try hard enough to protect New Zealand’s domestic interests in the TPP negotiations.

Labour had already positioned themselves to push for some protections but also to go with the TPP.

Bloomberg: New Zealand’s PM Sees Benefits for Her Country in the TPP Trade Deal

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her nation would benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, indicating she won’t let concerns over dispute resolution clauses scupper the trade deal.

“There are clear benefits for our exporters in this agreement,” Ardern said in an interview in her office in Wellington Tuesday, two days before she travels to the APEC leaders meeting in Vietnam where the Pacific-rim trade pact will be discussed. “New Zealand does not have the access to, for instance, the Japanese market that the Australians do. This would bring benefits to our beef industry, our wine industry, our kiwifruit industry.”

Ardern, whose Labour Party took power last month, has already moved to ban foreign buyers of existing residential property, removing one of the key stumbling blocks to her government signing up to the TPP. She still has concerns about the pact’s investor state dispute settlement clauses, which would allow foreign corporations to sue member states in disputes.

However, Ardern indicated New Zealand may not pursue those concerns at the expense of reaching agreement.

“Our objective has been to raise the issue, to pursue it as far as we’re able,” she said.

Some political gains but also allowing major trade gains to go ahead would be a win-win for Ardern and Labour.

Pragmatism to the forefront and ‘change’ in the background won’t please everyone. Anti-TPP activists will be disappointed, but no one voted for them.

Leave a comment


  1. Blazer

     /  8th November 2017

    The TPP should be abandoned if the resolution demands are not amended.They benefit corporations only.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  8th November 2017

      Get with the program Blazer – TPP is only terrible if you are in opposition.
      Now Labour are in power the “clear benefits for our exporters” have miraculously emerged from the dire world ending apocalypse the agreement was prior to the election.
      It’s almost as if they were playing politics over NZ trade agreements at the time…

      • Blazer

         /  8th November 2017

        No.. Labour do not want to frighten the… bourses.. at this stage.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  8th November 2017

          I knew this government would be beholden to corporate paymasters! Hopefully National will get back in and right this grave selling out of the system…
          I have to say it’s easy falling into the lefty conspiracy lines.

  2. David

     /  8th November 2017

    Course she will sign and she always would and it wont make a jot of difference at the ballot box, she will get a little grief from Kelsey et al but the media wont give too much a platform to her or anti TPP groups who get way too much coverage for a weird group of fanatics while Nattional were running the place.
    Investor state disputes are in all trade agreements and nothing to get too excited about for NZ because we always play fair.

  3. Blazer

     /  8th November 2017

    This agreement is lopsided in favour of litigious corporations.

  4. National will support Labour on the TPP.


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