First CPTPP Commission meeting agrees on expanding trade

The first meeting of the Commission of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has agreed on provisions to expand the trade agreement.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker – CPTPP meeting agrees guidelines to expand trade agreement

The first Commission meeting of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has reached agreement on guidelines to expand the trade agreement.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker welcomed the agreement on accession procedures – one of the decisions made by the 11 signatories at the first Commission meeting held in Tokyo today.

“New Zealand has always supported the concept of CPTPP as an open accession agreement, having been part of the original P4 agreement alongside Brunei, Chile, and Singapore.

“It was very pleasing to see CPTPP come to fruition with its entry-into-force at the end of December. I welcome the idea that those willing to meet CPTPP’s high standards and objectives are now able to join the Agreement over time,” David Parker said.

“I do not expect formal applications in the near future, but we look forward to continuing discussions with interested economies on the basis of these guidelines.

“In the meantime, I look forward to seeing the remaining signatories complete their domestic processes and join the seven who have ratified the Agreement to date.”

The TPP was timely given the uncertainty over trade with Britain and the EU (Jacinda Ardern is in London trying to talk trade today, before doing likewise with the EU this week), and also the trade turmoil surrounding Donald Trump (who withdrew the US from the TPP).

Parker is Labour’s most experienced Cabinet Minister and one of their better performers.

There’s some irony in Parker’s promotion of the TPP after Labour’s opposing of it when in Opposition (or at least appearing to oppose it by opposing some parts of it).

A new (vague) campaign for ‘a 21st century trade agenda’

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) started to come into affect at the end of last year – see Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement has started to take effect.

One of the most prominent anti-TPPA campaigners has taken a new tack, convening a hui to look at this year’s agenda.

Jane Kelsey (The Daily Blog):  Launch of JusTrade.nz heralds a new campaign for a 21st century trade agenda

The website JusTrade.nz, launched this week, heralds a new forward-looking campaign for a progressive 21st century trade agenda.

The JusTrade project builds on a two-day hui in late October that debated what an alternative and progressive trade strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand should look like. The live-streaming attracted over 17,000 page views. The website carries videos and transcriptions of all ten panels.

Hui convenor, University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, says ‘for too long we’ve been told there is no alternative to the current model, epitomised in the recently adopted Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.’

‘Today, the global trade regime faces an existential crisis. Mega-negotiations are being abandoned, delayed or pared down, and the World Trade Organization is fractured and paralysed.’

‘Critique is no longer enough. If anything is to really change, we need to step away from the existing framework and take a first-principles approach to rethinking what will work for the 21st century.’

‘A new progressive vision would see trade as driven by relationships, within our communities and with the wider world, that enable innovation, resilience and wellbeing, instead of enabling the corporations and markets that currently dominate our trade policy.’

‘The recent hui and the new website are a first step in the JusTrade project, bringing together experts on economics and business, geopolitics, te Tiriti, climate and environment, livelihoods, development, knowledge and health and wellbeing.’

The key message:

‘The message from the hui was very clear: we need to generate real alternatives that confront climate change and disruption, while supporting sustainable local businesses and jobs that pay a living wage, in a nation founded on te Tiriti o Waitangi.’

What that means is not clear at all to me. It just strings together a number of vague ideals.

While just posted this refers to a hui held in October.

The JustTrade Project

In October of 2018  a hui was convened to set out what an alternative and progressive trade strategy should look like.  The aim was to present positive and constructive approaches to achieving a new paradigm. This was the genesis of the JusTrade project.

Sponsers included the NZ Council of Trade Unions, It’s Our Future, Doctors for Healthy Trade, Oxfam, Greenpeace, the NZ Nurses Organisation, First Union, PPTA, NZEI, TEU, CAFCA and others.

Speakers include journalists Rod Oram, Bernard HickeyProfessor Jane KelseyMédecins Sans Frontièreslawyer Annette Sykes, NZCTU’s Sam Huggard and Bill Rosenberg, Greenpeace Director Russel Norman, and many more.

All contributions have been transcribed.

The hui has provided a platform for future research, advocacy and activism as we work to achieve a new paradigm for international economic relations – a paradigm that is rooted in te Tiriti o Waitangi, the needs and interests of local workers, communities and businesses, and confronts the pressing global challenges of climate change, insecurity and instability, authoritarianism, and the digital age.

Specific projects on investment, the digital economy, and climate change will be launched in 2019 to generate analysis and action that can pressure the government to deliver the promised progressive and inclusive, post-neoliberal future.

I am still unclear on what they are specifically trying to achieve.

Also Bryan Bruce: Is there a fairer way to trade?

As many of you are aware I am working on a crowd funded documentary currently titled Trade Secrets in which I investigate who really benefits from the huge international agreements we have been entering into and ask the very same question the JustTrade site seeks to answer: Is there a better, fairer , more progressive way to trade ?

I suspect the documentary will have a certain slant.

 

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement has started to take effect

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (now CPTPP) came into effect yesterday, 30 December 2018.

This ended many years of negotiations, the addition of a number of countries that totalled twelve when the agreement was first signed, but shrunk slightly to eleven when Donald Trump pulled the US out of it (the way he conducts international relations and trashes trade agreements and uses them as threats it is probably better the US is not trying to mess things up).

RNZ: CPTPP takes effect: Exporters first to benefit, govt says

The government is predicting New Zealand exporters will be the first to benefit from the re-jigged TPP deal, which takes effect at midnight.

The Minister for Trade and Export Growth, David Parker, said tariffs in three significant economies – Japan, Canada and Mexico – start reducing immediately.

The new deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also comes into force for Australia and Singapore at midnight.

Mexico and Canada will cut tariffs further in a second round of adjustments on New Year’s Day, while Vietnam will make a double tariff cut when it joins the trade deal on 14 January, and Japan’s second round will be three months later on 1 April.

Mr Parker said the agreement will give a further boost to the competitiveness of New Zealand products in those markets.

“The CPTPP has the potential to deliver an estimated $222 million of tariff savings to New Zealand exporters annually once it is fully in force, with almost half of that – or $105 million – now available in the first 12 months,” he said.

One export to benefit is fish and fish products, which currently face tariffs of 20 percent into Mexico and up to 10 percent in Japan, Mr Parker said.

“The CPTPP will see all tariffs eliminated on fisheries exports, with the majority of savings from today.”

He said Marlborough wine producers will gain immediate duty free access to Canada.

In the South Island, Mid Canterbury seed farmers who produce 50 percent of the world’s radish seeds, will benefit from the elimination of tariffs on horticultural exports within 15 years under CPTPP.

And in the Otago region he said summer fruits would see big benefits.

“CPTPP will see total tariff elimination on summer fruits, including cherries, for which the tariffs into Japan will be eliminated within six years.”

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that from today Japan will axe tariffs on kiwifruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

So it isn’t totally ‘free trade’, but it is a useful move in that direction.

Despite the benefits, National MP Todd McClay said the government needs to do everything it possibly can to bring the US back into the trade agreement.

“The government now needs to turn its attention to the US market, it’s the world’s largest consumer market, we haven’t got a trade deal with them, they need [the New Zealand government] to do everything they can to entice them back to the TPP and get better access for Kiwis for the US market”.

I don’t think it is worth the risk trying to get the US back into the CPTPP while Trump is President. He can’t be trusted to stick with trade agreements. He seems to think he can use agreements to threaten, and to renegotiate, at whim – as he has done with NAFTA. See “Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border……”

WTO notification of CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)

The impetus for the Trans-Pacific Partnership began in 2005 involving Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore.

In 2008, President George W. Bush announced that the United States would begin trade talks with the group, with  Australia, Vietnam, and Peru  also joining.  The group continued to expand with Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and Mexico being added later.

The participating countries came to an agreement in October 2015 and signed the pact in early 2016.

When Donald trump became president in January 2017 he withdrew the US from the agreement, but the remaining eleven countries proceeded without them. In six days it will start to come into force.

Agreement name: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Type: Free Trade Agreement & Economic Integration Agreement

Date of signature: 08-Mar-2018

Date of notification: 20-Dec-2018

Dates of entry into Force: 30 December 2018 for Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and 14 January 2019 for Viet Nam. For the rest of the Parties, entry into force would be in accordance with Article 3 (Entry into Force), paragraph 2, of the CPTPP.

Current (and original) signatories: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; Japan; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Peru; Singapore; Viet Nam

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp

Work towards the TPP began in new Zealand under Helen Clark’;s Labour led Government, continued under John Key’s National led Government, and was finalised under Jacinda Ardern’s Labour loed Government (with National’s support).

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.

TPPA protests struggle without party promotions

In February 2016 there were large anti-TPPA protests around the country. Green and Labour MPs were prominently involved. One of the organisers was Barry Coates, who became a Green MP when he replaced Kevin Hague as next on the party list.

With the revised CPTPP without the USA about to be signed in Chile there are protests around the country. Coates is still involved in organising – at 10 on the Green list he lost his place in parliament last year after Green support slipped significantly.

But the protests are struggling to get exposure and support. Labour and the Greens are far less interested or involved.

A protest rally was held in Nelson yesterday, and more will be held around the country today and next week. They are promoting along similar lines as TPPA – It’s Our Future! Don’t Sign! Auckland Rally

Speakers and performers include; Moana Maniapoto, Bryan Bruce, Laila Harre, Jane Kelsey, Mark Laurent and Brenda Liddiiard, Mikey Brenndorfer, and Peter Whitmore.

Our government is set to sign the rebranded Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) along with 10 other nations in Chile on the 8th March.

Following the collapse of the TPPA in the wake of the US withdrawal, the election of the new Government put a spring in the step of many. The Labour Party, New Zealand First and the Green Party had all said they would not support ratification of the TPPA. During the parliamentary examination of the text, Labour cited concerns about sovereignty, secrecy and inadequate economic modelling leading to uncertainty in projected outcomes; the Greens added that the TPPA is “inimical to the imperative of sustainability”; and New Zealand First focused on the anticipated dangers of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

What on earth happened? Labour has done a full U-turn, New Zealand First has joined in on the spin, and the Greens are very lukewarm in their disagreement.

What’s different?
Let’s be crystal clear. The “new” text is exactly the same, the only change being that 22 of the 1,000-plus original provisions have been suspended. These 22 provisions – mainly concerning intellectual property – have not been removed so that they can be revived if and when the United States comes back on board, as the Trump administration has indicated it is willing to do. When pushed on this point, the Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said that New Zealand could veto any attempt by the United States to join if that would compromise the Labour Party’sfive bottom lines. That, of course, would not stop a different government from giving up important aspects of New Zealand’s sovereignty simply to reduce tariffs for a trifling increase in GDP. And what was the Minister’s response to that serious concern? “Time will tell.”

Even now, in fact, Labour’s bottom lines have not been met. The so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) contains all of the core investor protections that are predicted to restrict the ability of Parliament to make laws in the interests of New Zealanders. As far as we know, has been no health impact assessment or analysis of the economic costs and benefits, as the governing parties called for when they were in opposition. The Crown has not discussed how it intends to strengthen protections for Māori, as recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal. And it is all well and good for the Prime Minister to call climate change her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, but that sort of rhetoric would be undercut by signing up to an agreement that prevents action on environmental concerns by empowering foreign investors to sue, for example, if the Government sought to close coal mines and roll back permits to prospect for offshore petroleum.

The TPPA contains the wrong rules for New Zealand’s future. It threatens to place a frightening price tag on pursuing the policies we need to get out of last century’s fossil-fuelled economy, while at the same time preventing public oversight of this century’s data – driven economy by empowering the private corporations that control intellectual property and the global tech infrastructure while avoiding their fair share of tax. All at the expense of the worker and the patient and the taxpayer and the environment.

Since the TPPA is still not the deal that we want for our country, we are encouraging everyone to show strong opposition to our government signing the TPPA. We will be holding a Nationwide Day of Action on Sunday the 4th of March, please tell your family, friends and colleagues, get together and head along to your closest family friendly action, to send a strong message to the government not to sign the TPPA!.

On Thursday the 8th of March (signing day), we invite you to join us outside of Parliament at lunchtime to send a strong resounding message to the government that we do not want the TPPA or any similar trade deals in the future. It’s our future – the future of our children, we want truly progressive trade deals!

Links to events around the country;

Whangarei: https://www.facebook.com/events/571225906585646/

Auckland:
https://www.facebook.com/events/805505526324341/

Waihi:
https://www.facebook.com/events/155211191848613/

New Plymouth:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1804674232898957/

Wellington:
https://www.facebook.com/events/161873691200281/

Nelson:
https://www.facebook.com/events/143815816431911/

Christchurch:
https://www.facebook.com/events/218094512072247/

Dunedin:
https://www.facebook.com/events/577900969251483/

The numbers signed up as attending on Facebook are quite low:

  • Nelson 18 went (yesterday), 26 interested
  • Auckland 98 going, 247 interested
  • New Plymouth 22 going, 37 interested
  • Dunedin 18 going, 35 interested
  • Christchurch 8 going, 32 interested
  • Wellington (Thursday) 60 going, 125 interested

The Standard and The Daily Blog seem to have virtually given up on protesting the TPPA.

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].

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.