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Meanwhile in the US, who was withdrawn from the TPP as soon as Donald Trump took over the presidency, is lurching towards protectionism with promises of steel tariffs resulting in widespread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.

TPPA signing and protests

Two things are certain – the signing will go ahead, and the protests will go ahead.

Apart from that after all the build up and rhetoric it’s impossible to know how the day will pan out.

I won’t be able to post during the day on the Trans Pacific Partnership signing and protests. I’ll catch up on what has happened later in the day.

The organisers of the main anti-TPPA events are stressing they will be a family friendly and non-violent, and there’s no reason to doubt their peaceful intent. Any threat of violence would deter some from taking part and they want as many as possible to give a show of force by numbers.

But there have been some provocative suggestions and urgings from the fringes, plus a media who love big news to report which will provide a spotlight for the over-exuberant and the unhinged.

So anything could happen today.

It will be a national expression of:

  • anti-TPPA
  • anti-John Key
  • anti-government
  • anti-USA
  • anti-international trade
  • anti-globalisation
  • anti-corporations

And it will be a historic day for New Zealand internationally.

Pride in the TPPA

John Key says that New Zealanders should feel proud of being a part of the TPPA we have been one of the primary forces behind the deal).

NZ Herald: TPP Signing: Historic signing gives Kiwis a chance to feel proud – Key

New Zealanders should feel immensely proud of being part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Prime Minister John Key said ahead of today’s historic signing in Auckland by 12 countries.

Mr Key said people had opposed the China free trade agreement in 2008 and the closer economic relations (CER) agreement with Australia in the 1980s and opponents of both had been proven totally wrong.

“In the end, for all the bluff and bluster and misinformation, TPP is no more than a free trade agreement with the first and third largest economies in the world,” he said, referring to the United States and Japan.

“I think people should feel immensely proud of TPP and actually excited by the opportunity it presents.”

Today’s programme

 9am Ministers welcomed to SkyCity with mihi whakatau (cut-down powhiri with no karanga)
 9.30am Ministers meet privately, chaired by NZ Trade Minister Todd McClay
 11.30am Signing of TPP documents 
• Noon Press conference.

The Herald editorial also promotes the pride angle: NZ can take pride in TPP deal on trade

Looking back, it is hard to recall a greater diplomatic achievement than the comprehensive trade and investment agreement that will be signed by representatives of 12 countries in Auckland today. The post-war creation of the United Nations in which New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser played a role may be as proud for those who remember it. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is directly in that tradition.

It represents another advance on the principles of the World Trade Organisation, formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) that was one of the multi-lateral institutions formed by nations seeking world peace and prosperity after two devastating wars.

The TPP became hard work once the United States was in and, more recently Japan. New Zealand’s hopes that agricultural tariffs and subsidies might be swept away in a “gold standard” agreement were dashed in dealing between the big two, along with Canada’s protection of its farmers.

But the fears of many in New Zealand that pharmaceutical purchasing and ICT innovation would be sacrificed for a deal did not eventuate.

The protesters who will be out in force today ought to acknowledge this even if they really think the US will be able to impose unacceptable conditions before the deal is ratified.

The protesters are protesters, not balanced evaluators.

Their over-riding concern remains that the TPP gives investors the right to sue governments for damages before international tribunals. But this is not a one-way street. New Zealand companies would have the same rights against capricious government actions in countries whose politics are a lot less reliable for investment than New Zealand’s. The rights are designed to encourage the international investment that spreads wealth in the world

The deal being signed in Auckland today embraces 40 per cent of the global economy and covers much more than trade. It covers the range of business rules and governing principles that the WTO has been trying to establish.

It is an agreement of historic global significance and New Zealand is hosting the signing in recognition of the role it has played. It might also bid to host a permanent secretariat if one is established. The drive for global prosperity could not be in better care.

It is an agreement of historic global significance, with New Zealand the current focal point.


TPPA process corrects claims of lying

Some people are jumping up and down prematurely over the claimed planned signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement on February 4.

The signing, whenever it happens, is just another step in the process prior to countries ratifying the agreement.

Frank Macskasy has claimed the John Key has lied (again) about consultation over the TPPA.

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 15: John Key lies to NZ on consultation and ratification of TPPA 

At every opportunity, our esteemed Dear Leader and other National MPs and Ministers have been eager to assure New Zealanders that the text of the  TPPA would be submitted to a select committee; scrutinised, and ratified by Parliament before it was signed.

Key’s assurances were seemingly air-tight.  (Though I, for one, am always skeptical of any assertion made by our esteemed Dear Leader.)

Macskasy then quotes a media statement from Chile’s General Directorate of International Economic Relations head and the Mexican financial periodical, El Financiero along with Google translations (that’s risky).

And he also says “according to Bloomberg  the impending signing-ceremony is confirmed by the Peruvians”:

Peru’s Trade and Tourism Ministry (Mincetur) confirmed that Deputy Trade Minister Edgar Vasquez, the country’s TPP negotiator, will be on hand for the signing ceremony in New Zealand.

Macskasy then claims:

The fourth of February is five days before Parliament resumes sitting, on 9 February.

Which makes a lie out of Key’s promises that the TPPA would be put before the House for Select Committee scrutiny and Parliamentary over-sight. By the time Parliament resumes, the TPPA will have been ratified by all participants according to the Chileans, Mexicans,  and Peruvians.

It is clear that National was planning on “pulling a swiftie” by keeping the ratification date secret from the public.

National has (again)  been caught attempting to deceive the public.

It beggars belief that they really thought no one would notice.

Any government that has to employ deception to enact policy is afraid of it’s own people. National is not fit to govern.

But Jane Kelsey explains in comments that the signing, whenever it happens (it sounds like some countries have confirmed they are ok for February but not all have confirmed yet so it can’t be officially announced), is a step prior to the TPPA being considered by New Zealand’s Parliament and possible at least parts of it being voted on.

OK, it is REALLY important that people start to understand the process here. If you can’t spend the time to read the 28 page version on tpplegal.wordpress.com here is the ABC

  1. The 12 countries have AGREED THE CONTENT of the deal (although there are still arguments about it especially in the US Congress and they want changes).
  2. Obama had to give 90 days NOTICE BEFORE HE COULD SIGN the TPPA.
  3. That notice expires on 3 February 2016 and they will SIGN the deal.
  4. After it is signed each country will begin its PROCESS FOR RATIFICATION. In NZ THE EXECUTIVE (CABINET) HAS THE POWER TO RATIFY, ie make it binding on NZ.
  5.  Here that involves TABLING THE TPPA and National Interest analysis in the House.
  6. They will be REFERRED TO THE SELECT COMMITTEE for submissions but even if the select committee recommended changes the Cabinet could ignore them.
  7. The HOUSE MAY OR MAY NOT GET TO VOTE on the agreement; that will depend on whether the government thinks Labour will support it. but it can make it a confidence vote if it needs to. And even if the House voted against it the Executive (Cabinet) can still ratify it.
  8. The only thing the Parliament really has a say on is PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION THAT IS NEEDED FOR NZ TO MEET ITS OBLIGATIONS.
  9. Proposed legislation WILL GO TO A SELECT COMMITTEE. it is likely to involve only 4 things: tariffs, trade remedies, copyright and maybe patents, and foreign investment threshold.
  10. PARLIAMENT WILL GET TO VOTE AND CAN REJECT THE LEGISLATION. But government can make it a confidence vote to make sure it passes.
  11. Even IF THE BILL FAILS IT DOES NOT CHANGE THE TPPA. It just means if the government ratifies it NZ will be in breach.
  12. The US CONGRESS & PRESIDENT CAN REQUIRE NZ to do more or it won’t bring the TPPA into force.

There is a much more detailed explanation please read https://tppascratchspace.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/jk-on-treaty-process.pdf

That’s quite a Government-skeptical view but at least it details the processes involved.

TPPA signing in NZ next month?

It’s being reported that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement will be signed by the 12 countries involved in New Zealand in early February, but the Government says this has not yet been confirmed.

Radio NZ reports Govt denies Chilean claim about TPPA signing.

Duty minister Simon Bridges said despite an official statement by the Chilean government that the controversial trade deal will be signed on 4 February in New Zealand, arrangements are not yet confirmed.

The statement, issued by Chile’s General Directorate of International Economic Relations head Andrés Rebolledo Smitmans, said the agreement would be signed by ministers from the 12 countries that negotiated the deal.

Not surprisingly this initiated criticism from opponents of the agreement.

The announcement sparked criticism from opponents of the deal, who said the fact the public only learned about the signing from overseas reports showed the government was still trying to limit the chance for New Zealanders to make their opposition heard.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said it would be insulting to New Zealanders if the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement was signed in this country two days before Waitangi Day.

He said having a signing ceremony for an agreement that eroded national sovereignty two days before New Zealand marked its own day of sovereignty would be arrogant and provocative.

A prominent critic of the controversial trade deal, Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey said the lack of any formal announcement by the New Zealand government before now was consistent with its “obsessive secrecy” throughout the negotiations.

“It seems quite reckless to sign a deal on the fourth of February when everyone knows that US politics will determine the final content. So there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge here.”

But perhaps Kelsey is premature.

However, Simon Bridges said a number of countries were still working through the domestic approval processes required before signature.

He said arrangements for the TPPA’s signing had not yet been confirmed and further details would be announced when and if they were confirmed.

It appears that Kelsey ‘broke’ this story yesterday in a post at The Daily Blog – BREAKING: Offshore confirmation: Ministers to sign TPPA in NZ on 4 February 2016

In that post Kelsey claimed:

Polls have shown the government doesn’t have popular support for the deal.

Technically that may be correct but it’s misleading. While a recent NZH/Digipoll showed only 22.9% supported the TPPA there was also only 33.1 opposed, with 45% “I don’t know enough to form any view”.

In comments at The Daily Blog Kelsey ‘clarifies’:

There is a difference between signing and ratification. Obama can sign on 4 Feb, after giving 90 days notice to Congress that he intended to do so. The approval of US Congress is needed for the implementing legislation that must be passed before the TPPA can come into force in the US and there are lots of other ways that US politics will make its presence felt. See my process paper at  https://tppascratchspace.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/jk-on-treaty-process.pdf 

She didn’t say this in her post. So the unconfirmed signing is not the final step. The TPPA still needs to be ratified.

It could be useful to try to build support for a series of protest meetings planned for later this month:

A series of high profile public meetings has been planned for the main cities at the end of January, starting with Auckland Town Hall on the evening of 26th January, followed by Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.