Media “let’s not do this” on TPPA protest meeting

According to The Daily Blog there was a ‘Let’s Not Do This!” public meeting protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership lst night in Auckland, the first in a nationwide tour by Jane Kelsey, Laila Harre and Burcu Kilic.

But the media seem to have a ‘let’s not do this’ attitude to TPPA protest these days, a big change from two years ago. I can’t find any reports.

Even The Daily Blog seems to be largely disinterested given scant reaction shown there.

Here is the only feedback on the meeting I can find, at The Standard:

At last night’s anti-TPPA-11 meeting in Auckland, Laila Harre said that there is no protection for NZ sovereignty over it’s labour/employment laws in the TPP agreement our government plans to sign on 8th March.

Harre has been researching and writing a thesis on it.

She says such agreements cannot protect our labour laws and this needs to be done through the ILO.

Under the TPPA that our government plans to sign, they could be sued for the labour regulations the government is planning to implement.

Harre and Kelsey say that if this agreement is signed, it will be used as a model for other trade agreements.

Kelsey said some in the labour caucus won’t to maintain such a model. But this model is in crisis, and we need to respectful campaign to shift the balance in the government to something more progressive.

National Day of anti-TPPA action on Sunday 4th March.

Demo in Wellington on day of signing, 8 March.

FUrther meetings around NZ before then.

The protest movement seems to be in ‘let’s not do this’ mode.

Media funkstille as far as I can see.

‘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.

Trump orders TPP withdrawal

Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, as signalled in his campaign.

He has warned business leaders he will impose “very major border tax” if companies move their manufacturing out of the US. Unless he also acts on the huge number of companies who already manufacture outside of the US this will give existing off shore manufacturers a big price advantage.

He has also said he intends slashing company tax rates from 35% to 15% or 20%.

BBC: Trump executive order pulls out of TPP trade deal

President Donald Trump has fulfilled a campaign pledge by signing an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump criticised the TPP as a “potential disaster for our country”, arguing it harmed US manufacturing.

“Great thing for the American worker what we just did,” said Mr Trump as he dumped the pact with a stroke of a pen.

This was well signalled.

He also cut funding for international groups that provide abortions, and freezed hiring of some federal workers.

Also on Monday morning, Mr Trump pledged to “massively” cut regulations and taxes on companies, but impose “a very major border tax” if they move factories outside the US.

“All you have to do is stay,” he told executives from 12 companies including Lockheed Martin, Under Armour, Whirlpool, Tesla and Johnson & Johnson.

After meeting the business leaders in the White House, Mr Trump pledged to lower corporate taxes to 15% or 20%, from the current 35%, and slash regulations by up to 75% if they keep jobs in the US.

As promised Trump will radically change business and trade regulations, tariffs and taxes for the US. How this will affect the US and the rest of the world is unknown – there is certain to be negative effects and unintended consequences.

When the world’s largest economy gets a good shake up it’s anyone’s guess what will froth over the top.

Japan, Australia still backing TPP

After an official meeting the leaders of Japan and Australia have said they were committed to proceeding with the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

RNZ: Japan, Australia both back TPP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement after their official meeting as part of Mr Abe’s four-country trip to boost Japan’s trade and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his first visit to Australia since Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister, he said both leaders were committed to ensuring the 12-country TPP trade deal would come into effect.

“On the economic front we agreed that we should demonstrate anew the importance of free trade,” he said.

“We confirmed that we would coordinate toward the early entry into force of the TPP and the prompt conclusion of the RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership].”

There is still a major problem though – Donald Trump has said made a priority of taking the US out of the TPP.

The commitment came despite United States President-elect Donald Trump criticising the TPP as a “potential disaster” for the US and vowing to prioritise withdrawing from the pact.

Mr Abe, who had previously said the TPP would be meaningless without the US, said the countries also agreed to maintain “solid cooperation” with the Trump administration.

NZ Herald report that Bill English says a rethink on the TPP may be necessary in Bill English optimistic about Donald Trump US presidency

One of Trump’s first acts will affect New Zealand’s interests – Trump has pledged to initiate the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership on his first day in office.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Japan PM Shinzo Abe met recently to discuss how to salvage the TPP and English said he was not ready to give up altogether either.

“I wouldn’t say it is futile, but I think along with those countries, we need to rethink our approach. It could be as soon as next week that the US executes its position and that means we need to rethink it.”

“I would hope there would be a way of keeping the US engaged in the Asia Pacific and the TPP certainly would have done that. There may have to be some adaptation or some other way of doing that.”

‘Rethink’ may mean trying to do a TPP without the US, unless Trump makes a major reversal on his stance.

Flogging a dead TPPA?

On his trip to new York John Key has been promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Is the TPPA a dead horse?

Today’s Herald editorial still thinks the TPPA is worthwhile – Key plays a strong geopolitical card on the TPP

John Key stated it as plainly as he dared in New York yesterday: failure to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would be a “massive lost opportunity” for the United States, he said, “because in the end is that vacuum isn’t filled by the United States, it will be filled by somebody else”.

He could have gone further and suggested the “somebody else” could be China. Talks involving China, India, Japan, South Korea, the Asean members and Australia and New Zealand are under way on a project called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Key had no need to spell out the implications to his New York audience, the Council for Foreign Relations, but his real targets are in Washington. Some of them – but not all – are seeking re-election for Senate and House seats. Some will be defeated at the elections on November 8, but all of them retain their seats until the next Congress is sworn in late in January. That “lame duck” period is a chance for legislators to do what is right, though it may not be popular.

Americans are well accustomed to their representatives doing this and they do not protest vehemently enough for the practice to become politically untenable. It almost seems to have tacit approval. The American public and the incoming Congress appear to accept that contentious things need to be done when the Constitution provides the opportunity.

Both presidential candidates say they want to renegotiate the TPP. Hillary Clinton will know, if Donald Trump does not, how long it took to get the TPP to the point of agreement and how hard it was. It would do the partners no harm to indicate to American voters that a renegotiation cannot be taken for granted.

The TPP has not come from nothing. It grew out of the World Trade Organisation’s stalled Doha round, which itself resulted from collapse of communism and almost universal realisation that competitive markets are the source of prosperity. If the US turns inward and protectionist under its next President, trading countries will look elsewhere for global progress.

Is Key wistfully whistling in the Washington wind?

What he or the Herald say will hardly sway the  USA.

Is the TPPA a lame duck or will the lame duck period givbe it another gasp of breath?

Obama to push TPP

President Obama has said that he will try to push the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement through Congress, despite both presidential candidates publicly strongly opposing the trade deal.

Newshub: Obama set for ‘full-fledged’ TPP push

US President Barack Obama is launching “a full-fledged, full-throated effort” to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership mega trade deal through Congress in the final lame duck months of his presidency.

The TPP would be the final landmark piece of Mr Obama’s presidency.

“This will be a full-fledged, full-throated effort,” Mr Obama’s deputy US trade representative, Robert Holleyman, told an event this week at Atlanta’s Commerce Club.

The Atlanta event reflected the huge divide between TPP supporters and critics in the US.

David Abney, the chief executive of the world’s largest package delivery company UPS, talked up what he believed would be the TPP’s ability to cut red tape for US small and mid-sized businesses entering new Asia-Pacific markets.

As Mr Abney spoke, UPS drivers and union representatives supporting them protested outside the Commerce Club.

“We’re opposed to the TPP because we feel like it’s going to undermine American workers’ standard of living,” Teamsters Local 728 political director Eric Robertson told theAtlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mr Obama has put Congress on notice he will be sending a TPP bill their way.

The White House has also organised 30 pro-TPP events to support Democrat and Republican members of Congress who favour the legislation.

It will be difficult for Obama. He hasn’t much time left in his second term, and has to get the TPP through in the ‘lame duck’ period after the election and before he leaves the White House in January.

TPP a victim of US election?

It’s looking increasingly likely that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement may be a victim of the presidential campaign in the US.

If the US doesn’t ratify the TPPA it fails.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both speaking strongly against the TPP in their campaign rhetoric.

President Obama’s hopes of slipping it through ratification in the lame duck session between the election on November 8 and the inauguration of the incoming president on 20 January 2017.

Patrick Gower has been attending both the Republican and Democrat conventions and writes: Opinion: The TPP is dead and gone

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is dead and gone and it is thanks to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Trump is dead against it.

Sanders is dead against it.

I’ve actually been really surprised at the level of visceral opposition towards the TPP from both sides here.

Each time both Trump and Sanders have bagged the TPP, there have been huge roars from the Republican and Democratic Convention crowds. 

And the power of both the Trump and Bernie movements mean it would be political suicide for United States politicians to go against them right now and ratify the TPP.

Powerful sectors of both sides of politics are against it – and you never, ever hear anything from its supporters in either the Republicans or the Democrats.

The TPP has been burned on the political firestorm that is raging here.

Big numbers of Republicans are dead against the TPP.

And I can tell you that huge numbers of Democrats are against the TPP.

If Hillary wins, she won’t want to deepen the divisions with her party by passing it.

As for a Trump win, well – say no more.

TPP supporters will bang on about all the possible machinations but the simple fact is this: The politics in America is against the TPP – and politics always wins in the end.

Maybe an ‘adjusted’ deal will re-emerge but the TPP as we know it is dead and gone.

Perhaps the other eleven countries will have to do it without the US. It was always going to be difficult getting it ratified there due to huge commercial lobbying interests trying to protect their markets and subsidies.

But that will take a lot of time, if there is any appetite to restart negotiations.

It looks like the TPPA could be a dead duck, blasted by a double barreled election shootout.

Democrats softening on TPPA?

Some predicted that US presidential campaign rhetoric in opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership may not match post election realities.

There’s a sign that the Democrats may be not as staunchly against it as Hillary Clinton has previously appeared as they get closer to having to put together a policy package.

As usual money often speaks the loudest in the US.

New York Times:  Bernie Sanders Allies Lose a Fight Over Democrats’ Stance on Trade

Allies of Hillary Clinton and President Obama on Saturday beat back an effort by the Bernie Sanders campaign to have the Democratic Party officially oppose a congressional vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

At a sometimes-raucous meeting in Orlando, Fla., of the party’s platform committee, which is drawing up policy goals for the Democratic National Convention this month, lieutenants of Mr. Sanders argued that the trade deal would lead to a loss of jobs and competitive wages and that it would ultimately harm American workers and labor unions.

Given that Mrs. Clinton, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has said she opposes the trade deal, the Sanders allies argued that her supporters on the committee should agree to try to block any congressional vote to ratify the agreement.

But opposing a vote on the partnership would line up the party against Mr. Obama, who is championing the deal and who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last month. Her allies on the platform committee regarded the Sanders effort as a rebuke to the president and merely a symbolic move because the committee cannot dictate to Congress.

Politics can be complicated in the US.


It bears repeating that Sanders didn’t win all of the platform battles. Indeed, a cynical way to interpret the Clinton campaign’s stance is that it has given Sanders the language he demanded on some issues while maintaining the flexibility that it wants, and that its big donors want, in other key areas, such as trade and energy.

Over the weekend, the platform committee rejected language that would have condemned the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and opposed its being put to a vote in Congress.

The committee approved milder language that doesn’t single out the T.P.P. but, rather, simply says that all free-trade deals should include standards that protect U.S. workers.

“Maintaining the flexibility that it wants, and that its big donors want, in other key areas, such as trade and energy.”

The overwhelming influence of money in the US may rule on the TPPA outcome.

Kelsey wants a no trade ‘progressive’ future

It’s well known that Jane Kelsey has long been anti-trade agreements. Leading the campaign opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in New Zealand is just business as usual for Kelsey.

Or perhaps that should be anti-business as usual.

She has a post at The Daily Blog that targets Labour in an attempt to stoke up the  anti-neoliberalism revolution and trying to replace it with “a new, progressive future for the nation”.

The NZ Labour Party can no longer avoid the elephant in the room

It was headlined as EXCLUSIVE but, ah, a lot of blog posts are exclusive.

Do you hear the people sing. Singing the songs of angry (wo)men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes. (Les Miserables)

But are they listening?

A cataclysmic event like the Brexit vote focuses the mind on the future and leaves political parties who are supposed to represent the people with nowhere to hide.  

The era of neoliberal globalisation is ending. People – who are also voters – have had enough of governments that work for the rich. Precarious jobs, stagnant incomes, unaffordable housing, massive household debt, stripped out safety nets, elected governments that are arrogant and unaccountable, opposition parties who are captives of their past or too cowed by fears of a collapse in business confidence to embrace demands for real change.

The drumbeat is getting louder. Policy choices that once seemed impossible and unthinkable have become very real. Political parties that claim to be progressive need to respond. Not just overseas. In Aotearoa too. And not after we ‘wait and see’. They need to take a position now.

No surprise that she wants Labour to take an anti-trade agreement position.

The New Zealand Labour Party can no longer avoid the elephant in the room: if elected, what is Labour going to do about the toxic mega-deals that have become a political liability in other democracies and are so deeply unpopular here?

They are deeply unpopular with a radical few like Kelsey. A Colmar Brunton poll on the TPPA in February:

Which of these best describe your view on the TPPA?

  • It may impact our sovereignty and I’m concerned about it 42%
  • It may impact our sovereignty but it’s not a big concern 22%
  • It won’t have much impact on our sovereignty 24%
  • Don’t know 12%

Even those who recorded “I’m concerned about it” will have ranged from being a bit concerned (at the height of TPPA protest) to those on the fringe who see it as “deeply unpopular”.

By the time of next year’s election neither the TPPA, TiSA and RCEP nor any EU FTA negotiations will be a done deal. Assuming Labour forms the next government, it will have the power and responsibility to decide whether to remain in them or take us out. So will the Greens and NZ First (especially tricky if the rumour that pro-TPPA Shane Jones may join their ranks is true).

By the time of next year’s election who knows what Labour’s vague position on the TPPA will be. It’s possible the TPPA will already have been ratified, there’s been claims that the USA may ratify after their election in November and before the new president takes over early next year.

Even without Phil Goff, Labour will doubtless hesitate to abandon the upgrade of the China FTA, which they consider an unmitigated success, or the China-led RCEP as the back door to the same. While digging us more deeply into the milk powder economy, the Chinese will be demanding more investment and procurement opportunities and protections, backed by investor-state dispute mechanisms.

It’s not just the TPPA (which includes two of the world’s biggest trading nations) Kelsey opposes, she also wants to scrap our trade agreement with China. That would have a major impact on availability and prices of goods and would jeopardise one of our biggest export markets.

By far the better option is still is not to negotiate these agreements, where they have been negotiated not to make them binding, and to begin rethinking how we engage differently at an international level.

Kelsey concludes:

New Zealand’s three main ‘opposition parties’ owe it to the majority of Kiwis who oppose the TPPA to have the political guts to state unequivocally that they intend to withdraw New Zealand from the agreement, and others of similar ilk, so that voters can align their preferences to the parties with the vision to create a new, progressive future for the nation.

There is no recent polling on who supports or opposes the TPPA so “the majority of Kiwis who oppose the TPPA” cannot be substantiated.

Although she dreams of “parties with the vision to create a new, progressive future for the nation” Kelsey makes no attempt to explain how progressive a non-trading nation would be.

Perhaps she envisages progressiveness as severely limited exports and more expensive imports.

Does anyone know if Kelsey has any vision of what a “new, progressive future for the nation” would look like?

Or does she just think that scrapping all our trade agreements will magically create utopia?

Seriously, does she have any plan apart from opposing trade?

Little: Backing the Kiwi dream

Andrew Little on defying the TPPA, and on changing the Government, and on Labour Party priorities, in a regional conference speech in Rotorua:

This weekend in #Waihi, Labour’s ‘Region 2’ gathered with other electorates of the Bay, greater Waikato and Hauraki to plan and debate the best ways in which we can ensure kiwis like YOU have access to opportunity – not just the 1%.

Here are a few sharp punches from Andrew’s speech, highlighting how the #TPPA won’t stand in the way of Labour doing right by New Zealanders in 2017.

Video on Facebook.


We don’t have to defy the TPPA. But we will. Labour will defy the TPPA…if that is what we have to do.

So these things are achievable if you’ve got a political will to do it.

We can fix those problems if we’ve got a mind to do it. And we do, because the truth is that some of these things are getting urgent now.

The idea that night after night we see families struggling, putting their kids to bed in cars, living in garages, that’s not acceptable any more.

And we should put a line under it and say “If you haven’t got a solution to that problem, if you’re not prepared to give it urgency,   if you’re not prepared to be serious about it and fix it, you don’t deserve to be in Government. You shouldn’t be in Government.”

“If you’re not going to fix the health system, and make sure the elderly can get the care that they need, you can’t be in Government, because you’re not looking after Kiwis.”

“And if you’re not going to look after the education system, and make it the basis on which our children can thrive and prosper and succeed in life,  you can’t be in Government, because you’re not lookin’ after the future generation of Kiwis who need it.”

Those are the questions we face. Those are the challenges we’ve got, and I can tell you with the Labour Party, those things are our priority. They have been for the last hundred years.

They have been since we formed a government eighteen years ago, and they are right now, because they are the things about strengthening the communities, and building a nation.

And we need more of that, so I’m saying to you now, for the next eighteen months, cast around.  Have a look closely at what you’re being told.

Push back when you’re being told we can’t do that.

Don’t accept the excuse that it’s someone else’s fault. I’m going to have to say the National Party, they’ve spent the last eight years blaming the Labour Government. It’s eight years on, for heaven’s sake.

It’s time to take responsibility.

The reality is, they’ve got no answer. They’ve got no vision. They are not about building our nation and building the people in it, and giving chance, and opportunity, and a sense of the future, and a sense of hope.

We are, and we’re going to go storming around New Zealand telling everybody that.

And next year, 2017, we’ll have the chance to put in power a party that is about building New Zealand and restoring that Kiwi dream.