Trump looking at US rejoining TPP

Reports from the US say that President Trump has instructed advisers to look at re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a month after it was signed by the remaining eleven countries, including New Zealand.

This looks to be a reaction to pressure from US farmers over Trump’s trade war with China,.

During the 2016 campaign Donald Trump spoke strongly against the TPP. As soon as he took office he withdrew the US from the agreement. Perhaps he thought that would kill the hole deal, but the the TPP progressed without the US, was renamed the CPTPP and was signed by the other eleven countries last month in Chile.

President Obama had promoted US participation in the TPP.

January last year: Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade Deal

President Trump upended America’s traditional, bipartisan trade policy on Monday as he formally abandoned the ambitious, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership brokered by his predecessor and declared an end to the era of multinational trade agreements that defined global economics for decades.

With the stroke of a pen on his first full weekday in office, Mr. Trump signaled that he plans to follow through on promises to take a more aggressive stance against foreign competitors as part of his “America First” approach. In doing so, he demonstrated that he would not follow old rules, effectively discarding longstanding Republican orthodoxy that expanding global trade was good for the world and America — and that the United States should help write the rules of international commerce.

Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership had not been approved by Congress, Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw not only doomed former President Barack Obama’s signature trade achievement, but also carried broad geopolitical implications in a fast-growing region. The deal, which was to link a dozen nations from Canada and Chile to Australia and Japan in a complex web of trade rules, was sold as a way to permanently tie the United States to East Asia and create an economic bulwark against a rising China.

Mr. Trump’s decision to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or T.P.P., reversed a free-trade strategy adopted by presidents of both parties dating back to the Cold War, and aligned him more with the political left. When he told a meeting of union leaders at the White House on Monday that he had just terminated the pact, they broke into applause.

“We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country, and it’s going to be reversed,” Mr. Trump told them, saying that from now on, the United States would sign trade deals only with individual allies. “I think you’re going to have a lot of companies come back to our country.”

Earlier this year, when it looked like the deal would go ahead without the US, there were signs Trump was rethinking, and now Senators there say he has instructed advisers to look at re-entering the deal.

CNBC: Trump told his advisors to look at re-entering massive Pacific trade deal, senators say

  • Senators say President Donald Trump wants his advisors to reconsider entering the TPP.
  • Lawmakers from agricultural states met with the president about the possible harm to farmers from Chinese retaliation to Trump’s proposed tariffs.
  • Trump left the massive 12-nation deal agreed to by President Barack Obama, and the remaining 11 nations reached a new agreement.

The president said he has instructed chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider trying to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The senators were among the lawmakers from agricultural states who met with Trump on Thursday about the White House’s proposed tariffs on China, which farmers worry would lead to retaliation that hurts their businesses.

After the meeting, Sasse told reporters the 12-nation trade deal agreed to by President Barack Obama and abandoned by Trump would be the “single best way” to counter alleged Chinese trade abuses.

“That cheating needs to be countered. But the single best way we can counter that is by leading all the rule of law nations in the Pacific who would rather be aligned with the U.S. than be aligned with China,” he said.

With the original deal, the nations intended in part to counter China’s economic influence in the region.

In January, Trump told CNBC he would join TPP again if he could make a “substantially better deal.” He argued the agreement as previously crafted was “terrible.”

On Thursday, Sasse suggested Trump thinks the U.S. could still join in on the agreement. The president reaffirmed “multiple times” that he believes it may be easier to join the agreement now, the senator said.

Now the deal has been signed without the US it puts them in a much weaker negotiating position.

 

 

Trans-Pacific Partnership “may affect people’s health”

On climate change, health implications, and  ‘a fairer society’.

Newsroom has an article by two academics on Trade agreement may affect people’s health:

The new Trans Pacific Partnership agreement will have an undeniable influence on the future health of New Zealanders and needs the full attention of the nation’s health professionals.

The rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP) pays lip service to broader social and environmental concerns, but privileges transnational and foreign investors over human and environmental health.

This article focuses on the CPTPP in the context of the global climate crisis and its potential impacts on health.

There is scientific consensus on the harmful effects of climate change on health – so much so that it is identified as the most serious threat to global public health this century. Direct impacts include death, illness and injury due to extreme weather events. Indirect impacts include shifting patterns of infectious disease, air pollution, freshwater contamination, impacts on the built environment from sea level rise, forced migration, economic collapse, conflict over scarce resources and increasing food insecurity. Mental health impacts are also significant, particularly within indigenous and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

Fast forward to their final statement:

Such an assessment is particularly critical as climate change poses such clear risks to the health of New Zealanders, and the constraints on climate action conferred by the CPTPP (as presently formulated) would prevent important steps to protect our health and create a fairer society.

Fair enough to consider health implications, even if contentious.

But I view very subjective considerations like “create a fairer society” from academics with some suspicion.

This was from:

Associate Professor David Menkes is from the Department of Psychological Medicine and Dr Rhys Jones is from Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, both at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The original, more extensive version of this article appeared in New Zealand Medical Journal on 9 March, co-authored by Wellington solicitor Oliver Hailes and two Christchurch-based doctors, clinical microbiologist Joshua Freeman and forensic psychiatrist Erik Monasterio.

“Green Party remains firmly opposed” to TPPA

Green spokesperson on trade, Golriz Ghahraman, has said in an email that the Green Partyremains firmly opposed to the TPPA (being signed soon in Chile), but has used anti-TPPA sentiments to try top raise money for the party via Twitter:

While the “new” TPPA deal gets signed in Chile today, the Green Party remains firmly opposed.

The legislation for this trade deal (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership – or CPTPP) is coming before Parliament this month. The Green Party is the only political party that has consistently opposed this deal from the start.

Why we remain opposed to it, is that the changes within the new text released last month, are not enough to mitigate the risk of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses.

This means our democracy is under threat.

This sounds over the top, I don’t think there is anything in the trade deals that scraps elections in New Zealand.

Our ability to adopt transformative progressive change in the face of threats like climate change and inequality, and our ability to honour Te Titiri o Waitang,i are all undermined by this deal.

As Greens, what is particularly chilling to us, is that where ISDS clauses have been accessed by foreign corporates to stop governments from changing the law, in 85% of cases it has been to stop environmental protection.

NZ should be placing itself among those nations who are seeking to find a fair way to trade without the unfair negative implications for people and nature.

The majority of New Zealanders have opposed the TPPA and the Green Party has opposed this deal from the beginning.

Has there been any measure of opposition on the revised CPTPPA? Or are the Greens trying to historic polls on one thing somehow equate to a revised agreement years later?

We’ve had a lot of support on this issue before, with a majority of New Zealanders opposing the TPPA. And today, people like you are marching against it again. We need your support now.

Here’s the situation. The Green Party has to raise money from as many generous people like you, to cover the costs of running the Party, to strengthen our membership and to grow the green movement you are a part of getting more people like you to come on board.

So she is trying to leverage donations out of TPPA protests.

Too late for the TPPA, unless they have a policy to pull New Zealand out of the agreement after 2020.

Your support got the Greens into government. And now, together, we must bolster the mandate the Green MPs have. The issues that matter most to you, like the TPPA, must be kept in front and centre; to make sure we can have lots of conversations, with more people, who care about our planet and our environment, just like you do. You’ve been a part of making that happen before, and right now it’s vital your voice carries on.

And we must start right now to further Green the government so we can negotiate with greater influence on the direction of trade deals like this. We’d like to see fair trade deals without ISDS clauses.

Perhaps they can oppose the trade deal negotiations with Russia that NZ First are promoting. And the trade deal negotiations with the EU that Labour are pursuing.

CPTPP to be signed (and protested) today

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will be signed by the eleven participating countries in Chile today, and a (futile) protest has been organised outside parliament in Wellington.

Newshub:  NZ to sign CPTPP today in Chile

Trade Minister David Parker will join his counterparts from 10 Pacific countries for the signing ceremony in Chile on Thursday.

The deal will eliminate 98 percent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $14 trillion.

Mr Parker said the deal would give Kiwi businesses preferential access to Japan – the third biggest economy in the world – Canada, Mexico and Peru for the first time.

The deal had also “increased in importance because of growing threats to the effective operation of the World Trade Organisation”, he said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s estimates, the deal is expected to give a $1.2 billion to $4b boost to New Zealand’s real gross domestic product.

This included almost $86 million in expected tariff savings for the dairy industry, while the country’s exporters would save about $200m in reduced tariffs to Japan alone.

The TPP 11 includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

In New Zealand protests against the TPP continue, but on a much smaller scale than in February 2016 when the agreement was first confirmed.

A petition has just 5236 signatures.

We request the House of Representatives to urge the Government to reject the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership, and that the House revise the Standing Orders of the Parliament to ensure the process for negotiating and signing trade and investment agreements is more democratic, independently informed, and regularly feeds information back to the Parliament and the people.

There is a protest in Wellington today but I can’t find details.

Meanwhile in the US, who was withdrawn from the TPP as soon as Donald Trump took over the presidency, is lurching towards protectionism with promises of steel tariffs resulting in widespread opposition and the resignation of Trumps chief financial adviser, Gary Cohn.

GOP senators versus Trump’s TPP and trade tirades

Yesterday in New Zealand the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was released. Next month it is likely to be signed by the eleven countries who renegotiated some parts of the agreement after Donald Trump pulled the United States out soon after becoming president.

Trump had strongly criticised the TPP during the presidential campaign. It’s hard to know whether he thought it was a ‘bad bad deal’ or it was an attempt to sound tough on trade in order to get more favourable deals.

If it was a bluff it failed, because the TPP is proceeding without the US.

Last month (26 January 2018) Trump appeared to soften his stance on the TPP in an interview with CNBC while at DAVOS: Read President Trump’s full remarks on trade deals to CNBC

  • In an interview with CNBC, he says he could rethink the Trans-Pacific Partnership if the U.S. can secure a better deal.

Trump’s remarks on the TPP:

Trump: I like bilateral, because if you have a problem, you terminate. When you’re in with many countries — like with TPP, so you have 12 if we were in — you don’t have that same, you know you don’t have that same option. But somebody asked me the other day, ‘Would I do TPP?’ Here’s my answer — I will give you a big story. I would do TPP if we made a much better deal than we had. We had a horrible deal. The deal was a horrible deal. NAFTA’s a horrible deal, we’re renegotiating it. I may terminate NAFTA, I may not — we’ll see what happens. But NAFTA was a — and I went around and I tell stadiums full of people, I’ll terminate or renegotiate.

(NAFTA is an agreement between the US and two TPP countries, Canada and Mexico. Trump insisted on it being renegotiated, but that appears to be bogged down. See below.)

Kernen: So you might re-enter, or? Are you opening up the door to re-opening TPP, or?

Trump: I’m only saying this. I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal. The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.

Kernen: That’s interesting. Would you handicap … ?

Trump: Are you surprised to hear me say that?

Kernen: I am a little bit, yeah, I’m a little taken aback.

Trump: Don’t be surprised, no, but we have to make a better deal. The deal was a bad deal, like the Iran deal is a bad deal, these are bad deals.

Yesterday the Washington Post reports: 25 GOP senators urge Trump to restart TPP trade talks, a deal he called a ‘disaster’

Twenty-five Republican senators, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), sent President Trump a letter Friday asking him to “re-engage with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” It’s the latest attempt by Republican lawmakers to get Trump to take a softer stance on trade, even though his administration is gearing up to erect more trade barriers. Trump withdrew from the TPP in his first week in office after calling the trade deal a “disaster” and a “rape of our country” during his presidential campaign.

“We encourage you to work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement,” the senators wrote. “Increased economic engagement with the 11 nations currently in TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, support millions of U.S. jobs, increase U.S. exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential, and benefit consumers.”

There is a sharp divide between congressional Republicans and the Trump administration on how to handle trade. Trump blasted America’s trade deals during his campaign and vowed he would either renegotiate many deals or scrap them, but many senators believe harsh action on trade would backfire, causing the loss of U.S. jobs and businesses.

Ripping up the TPP was a key talking point of Trump’s campaign. He portrayed it as a deal that President Barack Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton concocted. It would lower tariffs — better known as taxes — on goods traded between the United States and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim (Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei).

Supporters of free trade, including many Republicans, worried that Trump had made a mistake. They feared the United States was giving up its leadership role and ceding even more power to China. China was excluded from the TPP in an attempt to counter the communist country’s growing influence on the global economy.

After the United States pulled out of TPP in January 2017, Canada took over the leadership role.

Actually Japan probably took over more of a leadership role, and Canada caused a few hiccups in Vietnam last November, but eventually agreed on the CPTPP.

Many of the GOP senators who signed the letter are from states with a lot of agriculture, including Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

“Farm states were a lot of the big losers from the United States not going ahead with TPP,” said Chad Brown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “TPP would have lowered agriculture tariffs in a couple of countries where they had been high.”

Perhaps the best example is that Japan was willing to lower its tariffs on U.S. beef, opening a potentially lucrative market for American farmers. But now that the TPP is moving forward without the United States, Australian and New Zealand farmers probably will be the biggest beneficiaries.

Yesterday the Canadian Globe and Mail reported in Where do NAFTA talks go from here?:

“We got a blunt and sobering message last week from Steve Verheul, Canada’s head NAFTA negotiator, telling us that negotiations with the Americans are bogged down and, apart from some agreement on peripheral things, there’s absolutely no movement on the really tough issues.

The fundamental problem, Mr. Verheul said, is that the United States isn’t approaching the negotiations with the objective of concluding a balanced deal. The Trump administration’s position is “America First” and “America Only,” reflecting the tone of the President’s bellicose inaugural address.

As a result, the United States has tabled one-sided, intransigent positions, non-starters for Canada from day one. U.S. negotiators have no room to compromise because of orders from the White House. It’s clear that there’s a long, slow and painful road ahead in trying to achieve a North American free-trade deal, with agreement pretty remote at this stage.”

The US also faces trade problems in Europe. Forbes – EU Tells Trump: No Paris Climate Deal, No Free Trade

When Donald Trump took office last year, the assumption was that the transatlantic trade and investment partnership was dead.

The controversial free trade deal between the EU and the U.S., known as TTIP, was already years in development and was a big focus in Europe, particularly with left-wing protesters who said the EU would necessarily have to lower its environmental, health and safety standards to American levels. When Trump was elected on an anti-free-trade platform in 2016, these activists found themselves in the uncomfortable position of being on the same side as the new U.S. president.

Work on TTIP has come to a halt, although the European Commission has been keen to stress that it is not officially dead and talks could continue if the U.S. administration were to indicate interest. No such signal from Washington has been forthcoming.

It is in this context that France’s foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told the French Parliament last week that his country will insist that TTIP never be revived if Trump carries through on his promise to leave the Paris Agreement.

“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” Lemoyne said. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The U.S. knows what to expect.”

The US under Trump’s leadership is at risk of isolating itself on trade as the rest of the world continues to negotiate and make trade agreements.

Trans-Pacific Partnership text to be released today

Scoop: Govt to release CPTPP national interest analysis on Wed

The government will release the national interest analysis for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership on Wednesday, and the full text too if the other nations agree, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The Labour-led administration signed up to the regional trade and investment pact after the renegotiated deal let it restrict foreign buyers of existing residential property and watered down some of the more onerous Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions imposed before the US withdrew under President Donald Trump.

Ardern today said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s analysis unpicking the pros and cons of the deal for the country will be released on Wednesday, and she’s hopeful of publishing the full text the same day if certain translation issues are overcome.

“We have been urging all parties to reach agreement because of our strong desire to be absolutely transparent around the text as soon as possible,” Ardern said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference. “It is our hope it will be available at the same time as the national impact assessment, but either way, we’re looking to release the national impact assessment this week.”

The deal is expected to be signed in Chile on March 8, but Ardern said it won’t come into force until it’s ratified by 50 percent of the partners. Parliament will debate the agreement and that it will also go through select committee scrutiny for a full public examination, she said.

From New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a free trade agreement involving 11 countries in the Pacific region, including New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

Partnering with these countries represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand. The Agreement has the potential to open up new export destinations for our businesses, create jobs, and help generate a better standard of living for all New Zealanders.  At the same time, the Government‘s right to regulate in the public interest and the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi have been protected.

The government is releasing the Cabinet negotiating mandate for CPTPP and the minute of the Cabinet decision. In releasing this information, the government is seeking to balance introducing greater transparency around trade negotiations with a need to take into account the sensitive nature of the negotiations. Some of the information within the Cabinet paper is being withheld in line with the principles of the Official Information Act. The government will release further information on CPTPP as it becomes available, including a full National Interest Analysis.

Read the Cabinet negotiating mandate here [PDF, 6 MB].

‘Let’s not do this’ anti-TPPA meetings begin tonight

The Government is pushing ahead with the CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). It is due to be signed by eleven countries in Chile in early March.

Opposition to the TPPA has been has been much more muted now that Labour is in Government, and even the Green’s continued opposition seems token.

But anti-trade activist Jane Kelsey is trying to keep the opposition alive with a speaking tour that begins in Auckland tonight.

The Liberal Agenda – Anti-TPPA Live stream, today 6.30pm

The Daily Blog will be live streaming the Auckland ‘Let’s not do this’ anti-TPPA meeting this Monday 6.30pm. The meeting will feature Dr Burcu Kilic, Professor Jane Kelsey and Laila Harre.

As the Government continue to push through this deeply flawed trade deal, this is our chance to push back.

Even support of this is muted, since being posted yesterday morning at The Daily Blog there are just two comments, and only on of those in support.

Harre was a Labour Party supporter last term.

Kelsey is a professor at Auckland University. It is the beginning of a new academic year – I wonder how she manages to get the time for a speaking tour. Perhaps she could tape her meeting and use that as lectures.

Government at risk of revolt against the TPP?

There were large protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership when the then National Government passed the agreement through Parliament. Labour was vocal in it’s opposition to the TPP, and some of their MPs were actively involved in the protests.

It wasn’t clear how much of their opposition was just political opportunism and trying to make things difficult for National. It’s also not clear (to me at least) how much Labour was involved in organising the protests and supposition.

Then in November in Vietnam the now Labour Government worked on getting a revised CPTPP agreement between the eleven countries (Trump had pull the USA out).

And last month an agreement was reached, with NZ First also switching to support of Labour, but also needing National’s support. The Greens remained opposed, but their protests have been conspicuously muted.

Jane Kelsey immediately complained, but it has taken a while for other TOP opponents to start to complain.

John Minto at The Daily Blog in 100 days and the first broken promise

In their first 100 days Labour has offered us “not-National” policies but little else – unless a Woman’s Weekly Prime Minister is considered in the common good.

I’d like to be able to offer well-deserved praise to the Labour-led government but their policy offerings from their first 100 days have been uninspiring.

In each case the issues involved are central to the public interest and the new government is acting quickly and firmly to mop up the previous government’s failures.

In each case the public support was already assured for each announcement so there was no chance of serious kickback from National or its vested interests.

On the other hand, three crucial decisions of the new government will have a wider impact on the country and in each case Labour has failed the public interest in favour of vested corporate interests.

TPP:

Having done their best, before the election, to pretend they were opposed to the TPP and the secrecy around its negotiation, the new government has simply helped repackage the agreement with a few cosmetic changes to make it seem more palatable. It isn’t. It’s the same old bill of rights for foreign corporations to plunder our economy that its always been.

Minto and his fellow protesters were happy for Labour “to pretend they were opposed to the TPP” when it suited, but now they have woken up to being duped – although it had been obvious that Labour was milking as staunch opposition some fairly minor points of disagreement.

Political activist and trade unionist Elliot Crossan wants the Greens to actively oppose the CPTPP rather than whimper and roll over, to the extent that he thinks they should threaten to drag down the Government.

Against the Current: IT’S TIME FOR THE GREEN’S TO PLAY HARDBALL ON THE TPPA

Was the movement against the TPPA just protesting the National Party, or was it about a broader opposition towards control of Aotearoa by business elites no matter which party is in power? If the answer is the latter, what do we do to stop this corporate stitch-up of an agreement once and for all, now that Labour and New Zealand First have betrayed us?  

With Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her coalition government intending to  sign the reheated agreement on March 8, Elliot Crossan says its time to play hardball.

It cannot be understated just how crucial it is to any progressive vision of Aotearoa that we stop TPPA. TheInvestor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms were the main catalyst for concern around which the opposition movement mobilised.

But Labour and the other countries now call the agreement the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP!

LabourNew Zealand First and Green politicians turned up to our marches against the TPPA, and made political capital from voicing their concurrence with the demands of our movement.

Then-frontbencher Jacinda Ardern said of TPPA that “it is unlike any free trade agreement we’ve been party to before”, and that “it wasn’t just state to state, it was corporate to state.” The Labour Party’s minority submission in the Select Committee concluded with the statement “the TPPA will have ramifications for generations of New Zealanders.

Winston Peters went so far as to write a piece for theDominion Post entitled “With the Trans-Pacific Partnership, New Zealand is signing a blank cheque”, and opining that “being a beacon of free and fair trade is what New Zealand once claimed it stood for.

Barry Coates, who was one of the leaders of the campaign against the TPPA, briefly served as a Green MP, and was highly placed on the party’s list going into the election; the Greens were sounding alarm bells about TPPA as far back as 2010, and of the three parties in government, have the most consistent record of opposition.

The Greens have been consistently opposed, but not consistent in how actively opposed they are. A roar has become a whimper.

Now that they are in power, both Labour and New Zealand First have decided to support what campaign group It’s Our Future are calling “the Zombie TPPA”, the revived agreement minus the United States.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Trade Minister David Parker are desperately insisting that their sudden shift of stance is “nota u-turn”, while Winston Peters is claiming that “the deal is not the deal inherited, it’s different … with substantial changes with the types that the Canadians were holding out on as well, that we both have seen changes that mean we can support this deal”.

Only the Greens remain against it, with new MP and trade spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman maintaining staunch opposition and outlining how the Greens believe that disagreement and protest within government, including on the TPPA, are essential to the Green vision.

Ghahraman has voiced some opposition, but her party doesn’t seem to care much about reviving the protest movement they were an active part of.

Here lie two essential questions. Was the movement against the TPPA just protesting the National Party, or was it about a broader opposition towards control of Aotearoa by business elites no matter which party is in power?

It was both, sort of. There was staunch probably not very broad  “opposition towards control of Aotearoa by business elites”, including the Greens. But Labour used this to build broader protest against the National Party.

If the deal goes to a vote in the House, then National, ACT, Labour and New Zealand First will vote for it, with only the Greens opposed. It will pass 112 votes to 8. But the opposition to TPPA must not melt away quietly, resigned to defeat. It may be that we cannot stop the deal now, but there is no question that we have to try with all our might to bring it down.

So what  is to be done? Firstly, we need to educate people on how the “CPTPP” is no different from the deal National tried to sell us. Jane Kelsey is going on a speaking tour to this purpose this month—you can find your local meeting here.

When the TPP protests were being supported by Labour Kelsey had a speaking tour then too, and I went to her meeting in Dunedin. Now Labour minister but then Labour’s trade spokesperson David Clark attended, and spoke at an anti-TPP rally in the Octagon see Labour’s Mad McCarten Moment? and David Clark on the TPPA.

Secondly, we need to organise to hold demonstrations as big if not bigger than our protests against the original TPPA. We should not tone down our resistance when so-called progressive parties are in power—we should be angrier!

Would it be any more than Twelve Angry Activists?

Thirdly, we need to mobilise forms of protest which show the threat people power can pose to those who seek to govern us. The unions should strongly consider strike action to demonstrate the high political price any government will pay if it tries to serve the interests of profit over looking after the wellbeing of the people and planet.

Union strikes against the union supported Labour led government would be interesting.

 

Perhaps unions could threaten to withdraw their financial support of the Labour Party, and threaten to withdraw from Labour’s leadership selection arrangement.

I make my fourth argument as someone who has been a member of the Green Party for three years and served in 2017 as the Co-Convenor of the Young Greens. The Greens only have eight MPs, three of whom are Ministers outside of Cabinet—apart from the areas agreed in our Confidence and Supply agreement, the party has little to no power over government… other than the power to bring the government down in a situation desperately important enough. And I would argue that TPPA presents such a situation.

The founding document of the Greens simply cannot be implemented within the structures TPPA would entrench. This poses an existential threat which cannot be ignored to the hopes and dreams that Greens, and progressives in general, have for the future of Aotearoa.

Bringing down the government is a drastic move to make, especially so early in its term. There are few things which could necessitate such a play being made, but TPPA is, in my view, undeniably one of them. There is simply no alternative if we are serious about creating a better future.

What would the effect of the Greens withdrawing Confidence and Supply be? Given it is far too late now for Winston to make a u-turn and support National, and given the Greens would never prop up National, neither National or Labour would have the confidence of the House. This would mean Ardern would have to choose whether to concede to the Greens, or to call another election.

Withdrawing from the Confidence and Supply agreement would likely remove any doubt that the Greens would be a liability to any government and could not be trusted. The Greens must have known the likely outcome of the TPP when they chose to support Labour and NZ First into government.

What would happen in another election?

Polling taken in 2012 through 2016 indicates a broad public opposition to TPPA. An election held on the basis of the agreement would favour the Greens well, as long as the party could effectively communicate the gravity of the threat posed by the agreement, and hammer home that we are the only party who have never wavered in our stance against it. Given their u-turn on the trade deal so many of its members and supporters despise, Labour would be at risk of losing its progressive base to the Greens.

There would be a far greater risk of:

  • Green support plummeting and never recovering due to being viewed as too radical and unreliable to be in Government or in Parliament.
  • NZ First support remaining where it currently is according to the latest polls, below the threshold.
  • Labour support dropping, dragged down by anti-TOPP activists and punished by voters for trusting the Greens.
  • National would likely win a forced election and become a one-party government.

The CPTPP would be already signed so nothing would be achieved except political chaos and a strong swing rightward.

Perhaps a compromise is in order. Given the fact that Labour and New Zealand First went into the election opposing TPPA, and given that it permanently removes democratic rights from New Zealanders, the very least that the government should do would be to allow a binding referendum to take place before agreeing to the deal.

A referendum on the CPTPP could not be forced and organised before the signing next month. And it would be quite undemocratic for a small minority to force a delay and referendum when a huge majority in our representative Parliament supports it progressing.

There could not be anything more destructive to the Greens than to allow a trade deal to pass through parliament which would allow corporations to sue governments.

Yes there could – Greens self destructing, destroying the Government and putting National back in control.

Even if the Greens succeeded in turning Labour against signing the CPTPP this would likely confirm people’s concerns about the Greens being in Government, damage the Government significantly, and consign it to a single term, if it lasted that long.

I also question Crossan’s assertions about the degree  the CPTPP “would allow corporations to sue governments”, but that’s another story.

Parker pushing for more trade with better social equity

One of the Government’s most notable achievements so far has been helping the eleven country Trans-Pacific Partnership (now CPTPP) to a final agreement, despite not being on Labour’s Taking action in our first 100 days list (that isn’t surprising because Labour had made a big deal and political capital by opposing it, albeit on limited grounds). It is expected that the final agreement will be signed in Chile on 8 March.

The quiet achiever here has been Minister of Trade David Parker, but credit also has to go to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for giving Parker the trade portfolio, and for the Labour dominated caucus for presumably supporting Parker’s trade agreement aims.

Parker’s full job description is Minister for Economic Development, Environment, and Trade and Export Growth, as well as Attorney General and Associate Minister of Finance.

Parker is also busy working on other improvements to trade access for New Zealand.

Newshub: Need to build support for free trade seen

New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker is pushing a message of inclusiveness in a bid to build public support for freer trade after meeting APEC business leaders.

The APEC Business Advisory Council is holding its first meeting of the year in Auckland, which concludes on Sunday.

The council is the voice of business in APEC. In their annual report to APEC leaders, released Sunday, members called on leaders to show leadership on further liberalisation of trade in goods and services as well as investment flows.

When Mr Parker engaged with the APEC business leaders on Friday, he underscored the need for business to help re-build public consensus for trade, which has eroded around the world.

Ironically public consensus for trade had looked to be somewhat eroded when there were large protests against the TPP in 2016, and Labour, NZ First and the Greens were all in support of the opposition (Labour MPs took part in protests).

Mr Parker called for emphasis on labour, small business, women and the environment.

Mr Parker said many people had felt left out by globalisation and were worried about a concentration in wealth.

These concerned had to be recognised and addressed, he said.

While Parker is pushing for further liberalisation of trade he is adding wider social considerations. This is one of the aims of the Ardern government. They are pragmatically working on trade agreements, but trying to take on more of a social conscience.

This likely to be fine with the many, but a few will remain opposed to more free trade and globalisation.

The current Government’s approach is an evolution of the trade and social direction of the past Clark and Key/English governments.

Parker is Labour’s most experienced minister, and so far looks to be their star performer.

His approach may dismay some on the hard left, but already with a left-wing government they have nowhere else to go. The Greens may continue to resist trade agreements, but Labour is very close to National on trade so should be able to progress on trade matters with a super majority.

Rather than throwing out ‘neo-liberalism’ and starting fresh as some left wing activists want, something untested and very risky (economically and socially), Parker and the Labour government are taking a safe and sensible approach, working on improving on the trade, financial and social direction New Zealand has been going in.

Most parties support improved TPP

New Zealand looks set to join ten other countries in signing a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in Chile in March, although after being a strong advocate National say they want to see the final text before giving their full approval.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the revisions have substantially improved the agreement, but it’s probably closer to being a few final tweaks.

It has been reported that Ardern has spent some time over the holiday period encouraging Canada’s Justin Trudeau to get on board after backing away late last year. Canada look like they could lose the NAFTA agreement (with the USA and Mexico) so being left out of the TPP would have isolated them more.

NZ First say they will now support the agreement.

Greens say they will still oppose it, but the three larger parties plus ACT make up most of the votes in Parliament.

Jane Kelsey and a few others will continue opposing the deal, probably regardless of what is changed.

There may be some protests but I think they will be nothing like the protests here in 2016 – Labour won’t be organising protests against themselves obviously, and while the Greens remain opposed they are likely to be far less active acting against the interests of the Government they are now a part of.

Most voters are unlikely to care much, and are unlikely to be motivated to moan.

So it looks like a done deal that will get approved by a select committee, ratified by Government and signed in Chile in March.