TPPA – committee report

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has been released.

Recommendation

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has conducted the international treaty examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and recommends that the House take note of its report.

But…

New Zealand Labour Party minority view

The first Labour Government pushed for market access improvements in Europe, and the Party has continued to push for free trade since. Yet, the Labour Party wishes to protest in the strongest terms at the Government’s failure to effectively represent the long-term interests of New Zealand in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. As it stands, we cannot support the ratification of the-Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Conclusion

The Labour Party is the party of free trade. As a party, we have always sought to deliver the benefits of free trade to New Zealand, and to reduce the barriers to growth for our firms and workforce. In doing so, we have been mindful of the constitutional convention that governments should not seek to bind the hands of future governments, unless there is a clear and bipartisan agreement to do so. The Labour Party has sought to deliver economic agreements with other countries that promote and support economic growth, and deliver new and improved working opportunities for our residents.

The failure of the Government to preserve New Zealand’s ability to legislate in its future interest, and the inadequacy of modelling supplied to the committee means that we cannot be confident that the TPPA agreement put before the committee meets these objectives. The best available analysis suggests that it is likely to lead to a reduction in the number of jobs.

The proposed gains are marginal, if they even exist. It remains to wonder whether with better political leadership, an agreement with more clearly demonstrated benefits to New Zealand might have been offered up to the committee for consideration.

Had the Government through the five year negotiating period adopted a model of rigorous consultation with opposition parties, academia, unions, and business―as has been done in New Zealand in the past―a clearer and more informed negotiating mandate might have been gathered.

Equally, and in response to the questions such consultation inevitably raises, the Government might have commissioned modelling and developed policy responses to address concerns about employment, income distribution, and public health impacts. Sadly this was not done. Certainly, in those other TPPA countries where fuller and wider consultation was undertaken, public backlash to the agreement finally reached appears more muted.

The TPPA will have ramifications for generations of New Zealanders. For their sake, we should not so lightly enter into an agreement which may exacerbate long-term challenges for our economy, workforce, and society.

Green Party of Aotearoa/New Zealand minority view

The Green Party opposes ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. We call on the Government to

  •  delay introduction of the domestic legislation for the Treaty
  •  agree to an urgent debate on this report as part of the treaty examination stage
  •  hold a non-binding public referendum on ratification of the Treaty in its current form.

The Green Party is critical of both the substantive content of the TPP and the procedure for its multilateral negotiation and its ratification in New Zealand. In summary, they are:

Conclusion

Domestic legislation to implement the TPP should be deferred in favour of a more open and honest debate on these fundamental and critical issues of political governance, economic wellbeing, and sustainability.

There is a need to improve the negotiating procedure for 21st-century economic integration agreements, and there is a need for a model agreement to be circulated and scrutinised under public transparency.

The Green Party plans to undertake such an initiative, so that future agreements, such as the European–New Zealand agreement, can benefit.

New Zealand First Party minority view

New Zealand First insists that trade is a core ingredient in growing wealth and prosperity in New Zealand. We say that the TPP is not a trade agreement. As numerous analysis has shown, coupled with several independent New Zealand articles, the TPP will serve only to grow income inequality in New Zealand.

The TPP is a sideshow to the WTO and we should be supporting the far better and greater opportunities arising out of that, including the recent breakthrough in the current Doha Round on elimination of agricultural subsidies. Why sign a TPP agreement that would protect those subsidies to the detriment of our exporters?

Recommendation

New Zealand First, in consideration of all of the submissions, given the time frame made available, and given the political climate in our prospective partner nations, recommends that this Government not ratify this trade agreement. We recommend the pursuit of a trade deal that would actually benefit small-to-medium enterprise in New Zealand and most certainly our agricultural sector.