Anti-TPPA meeting tonight

Jane Kelsey is annoyed she wasn’t invited to CPTPP consultation so she could protest. She even objects to referring to it as the CPTPP.

Yesterday at The Daily Blog: URGENT ATTENTION ALL ANTI-TPPA ACTIVISTS

We discovered less than a week ago that MFAT is hosting ‘consultations’ around the country, with David Parker, this week on the TPPA-11. It appeared to be a last-minute decision to do something before Xmas, and somehow they forgot to send invitations to critics who have attended previous ‘consultations’. Presumably the business sector was given priority notice. There is no information on the MFAT website, but we know at least about these:

Dunedin: Monday 4 December, 5:15pm – 7:15pm, Otago Southland Employers Association, 16 McBride Street, South Dunedin: Register now

Auckland: Tuesday 5 December, 6.00 to 7.30pm, Europe House, Auckland University of Technology, 56 Wakefield Street – Register now

Tauranga: Wednesday 6 December, 8:45am – 10:45am: Smart Business Centre, Bay Central Shopping Centre, 65 Chapel Street Register now

Hamilton: Thursday 7 December, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, PWC Building, Level 4, 109 Ward Street Register now

The obvious reaction is WTF? There’s no urgency to do this, as the ministers are apparently not now going to meet during the Buenos Aires WTO ministerial on 10-13 December. That suggests the government has been running focus groups or polling which tells them that people are not buying their spin on the old/new TPPA-11 (please let’s NOT call it the CPTPP). Or that they still hope to get a deal they can settle the remaining four issues and sign in February or March. Consulting now would mean the government could do this, claiming it has consulted, and not try to rush something over January which would create more of an outcry. Then they will have the proper ‘consultation’, when it’s too late to do anything.

The title gives a hint that Kelsey is anti whatever shape or form a Trans Pacific trade agreement might take.

If the pending ‘consultations’ are anything more than a cosmetic box-ticking exercise the Labour-NZ First government needs to be prepared to demand real, dramatic changes or walk away.

If they aren’t, they are expecting us to be complicit in authorising their u-turn on a deal they previously said they wouldn’t ratify. And we are not about to do that.

At The Daily Blog today:  BREAKING: The Daily Blog to livestream TPPA meeting 6pm tonight

It is almost incomprehensible that a meeting about the TPPA is being held in a tiny room like Europe House at AUT.

A decision this big demands far more respect than that.

Tonight from 6pm-7.30pm The Daily Blog will live stream this incredibly important debate.

We are doing this in conjunction with Professor Jane Kelsey and It’s Our Future and we desperately require donations to cover the cost of this.

Those donations may not have been forthcoming:

Now that the organising clout of Greens and Labour are presumably not so interested in protesting the agreement now they are in Government the protest movement seems to be marginalised. I haven’t seen anything in media about this protest meeting.

 

NZ First want to see CPTPP final deal

Labour is obviously keen to get the CPTPP trade deal done, and with promised support from National they have a large majority in Parliament for it. ACT will presumably also support it.

Greens remain ‘strongly against’ pretty much any real world trade agreement – see Greens confirm CPTPP sideline opposition.

Despite Winston peters being close to the recent action in Vietnam NZ First has indicated it wants to see the details before deciding whether they will support it or not, but they are probably bound to vote for it anyway through Cabinet responsibility.

Newshub:  NZ First support for TPP not guaranteed

Labour may have to pass the CPTPP into law with the support of National and ACT – and without its Government support partners.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand First won’t make a decision on whether it backs the CPTPP (the rebranded Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) through Parliament, until it’s seen the final deal.

Speaking from the Philippines, Ms Ardern said, despite New Zealand First having Cabinet responsibility, it also had the ability to agree to disagree.

“We won’t have a conversation about where party support will fall, until we have a final agreement,” she said. “I absolutely understand parties in some cases will wait until the final deal’s on the table.”

From time to time, Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens will take differing positions, she said.

Ms Ardern has had ongoing conversations about the deal with NZ First leader Winston Peters.

So Peters should be up with the play as well as anyone, but the NZ First party may have  a tricky decision to make – how to vote for a trade deal that may be unpopular with many who voted for them.

Greens confirm CPTPP sideline opposition

The Green Party has confirmed “strong opposition” to the newly renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Golriz Ghahraman, who was recently appointed as trade spokesperson, put out a Green Party statement on TPPA

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand maintains its strong opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Curiously the Greens (this statement looks certain to have been written for Ghahraman by the party) are not referring to the new name, CPTPP.

“The Green Party has long opposed the TPPA. The new proposed deal, which came out of the weekend’s talks, still contains key ISDS concessions to corporations that put our democracy at risk, so our position remains the same,” said Green Party trade spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.

Our democracy is no more at risk than it was last week, last month or last year.

Continued anti-corporation rhetoric makes greens sound anti-business. Greens give the impression that they are only prepared to deal with perfect socialist countries.

“We support fair trade that brings real benefit to all New Zealanders – not trade deals that put our rights and our Government’s ability to legislate to protect our people and our environment at risk.

“ISDS mechanisms are a particular threat to environmental protections, with 85% of ISDS cases being brought by corporations focused on exploiting the environment and natural resources.

I don’t think there has ever been an ISDS case brought against New Zealand. They are seen as very low risk.

“The Green Party will be seeking to introduce new measures that require all trade agreements in the future to be part of the solution to climate change, global and local inequality and the protection of human rights.

Seeking idealistic perfection – the Greens are yet to learn that pragmatism is an essential of being in effective government.

“Standing in opposition to the TPPA does not make a difference to our relationship with Labour. Indeed it is a sign of the strength of that relationship that we can respectfully disagree on an important issue like the TPPA but still get on with the business of government.

This is safe symbolic opposition knowing that National will support Labour in enabling the CPTPP.

“We made it clear to Labour in negotiations that we cannot support the TPPA, and they understand our policy difference.

There is no change in stance from ““We made it clear to Labour in negotiations that we cannot support the TPPA” despite Jacinda Ardern claiming the agreement was now “damned sight better” than it had been before changes made in parallel to the APEC meeting in Vietnam.

“We will continue to use our position in Government to fight for better trade agreements that protect the interests of people and the planet, not just corporations,” said Ms Ghahraman.

Framing the TPP as people versus corporations is simplistic and grossly inaccurate. Trade agreements benefit New Zealand exporters, and some of the largest, like Fonterra, are producer owned cooperatives. There are also many small business exporters (I work for one), and whether large or small exporters employ many New Zealanders.

Sure this shows the Greens sticking to their principles – when it is safe and suits them.

Not supporting Labour on the CPTPP and leaving it to National is MMP in action, but it sets a precedent that could further weaken the Green position on the government sidelines.

Will the Greens just not support the CPTPP, or will they be actively involved in campaigning against it as they have been in the past?

Not voting with Labour is one thing, but campaigning against their major partner in government is a bigger risk.

Opposition remains to TPP

While Jacinda Ardern is happy with progress made with the now renamed CPTPP trade agreement that continued to be negotiated parallel to the APEC, but opponents in New Zealand remain opponents. This is no surprise.

Vernon Small:  Jacinda Ardern passes Apec summit test

Now it is back on track – albeit now delayed until the next time leaders can gather – and Ardern has set New Zealand up to sign the agreement formally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It transmogrified into the TPP-11 when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out in favour of bilateral trade deals – where New Zealand is vanishing far down the queue.

Perhaps fearing a countdown – TPP-10, 9, 8 – and apparently at the request of Canada, it has emerged from the crystalised emphasising its comprehensiveness and progressiveness.

It might be near unpronounceable as the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership), and loom on paper like an abbreviation of something from the former Soviet Union, but apparently the rebranding will help Trudeau sell it to his voters.

Signing the deal, but with some victories, would have been one of Ardern’s key aims. Not being blamed for its failure was probably another.

Critics in New Zealand were wishing for it to fail, but to no avail.

So it is no surprise her team have pushed hard to the media both messages; that any hold-ups are not of New Zealand’s making and that there have been significant wins on investor- state disputes settlement (ISDS) clauses. A “damned sight better” than it was, Ardern stressed as her crafted sound bite.

The TPP’s opponents at home have labelled it spin and are clearly disappointed Labour’s strong rhetoric did not see it reject the deal in its entirety.

Some aspects of the ISDS clauses have been narrowed and those “suspensions” have been put on ice, pending a possible US return.

In theory, New Zealand could veto them returning if the US insisted on the resurrection of the ISDS clauses and if our Government was prepared to stare down a post-Trump US and the other 10 CPTPP nations.

The incoming Government has managed to brush some fleas off the clauses, which Ardern called “a dog”, but she will be hoping the shift against them internationally will continue and that they will stay impounded when they are reviewed in three years time.

Ardern says it is now “a damn sight better than what we had when we started” and obviously wants it to happen. Not so the TPP opponents.

RNZ: TPP critics unmoved by new negotiation wins

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is still opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, despite the government claiming significant wins at the talks at APEC.

CTU secretary Sam Huggard said the agreement was still not good enough on labour laws or transparency.

He said he was keen to talk to the government about negotiating different types of trade deals in the future.

“Certainly the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has shown a strong interest in its opposition to the TPPA for some years now, and that will continue.

“I guess what we’d like to do though is be part of a conversation with government about what a better agenda for trade could look like for working people.”

He said the TPP was structurally biased towards the commercial sector and downplayed issues such as health, safety and human rights.

And Jane Kelsey is also unsurprisingly still opposed – there is less chance of her supporting the TPP than there is of John Key making a political comeback or Andrew Little taking back the Labour leadership from Ardern.

On Saturday when there appeared to be a hiccup in the TPP negotiations Kelsey tried to start a campaign to pressure Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to ditch the deal: Help kill TPPA today by tweeting PM Trudeau

It’s not over yet. I don’t want to jump the gun. There will be more attempts to pull it off today.

The Japanese PM Abe is now trying to pressure Canada to finalise the agreement whilst they are in Vietnam. Can you please help us in tweeting PM Trudeau, Canadian Trade Minister and the Canadian Foreign Minister.

Canada refused to sign on at the last minute due to concerns around labour rights, Indigenous rights, cultural issues and gender equality.

Asking them to maintain their position on the #TPP and put culture, indigenous rights, women’s rights, and labour rights ahead of corporate interests.

That failed. Kelsey also posted yesterday: Labour largely endorses National’s TPPA, but it’s not all over. What now?

The bad news is that the Labour government has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, with the suspension of a limited range of items, at the ministerial and leaders’ meetings in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

The ministerial statement released by the TPPA-11 has a catchy new branding for the deal: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  No easy slogans there! But isn’t it interesting how something so toxic can simply be relabelled ‘progressive’?

I suspect Kelsey would see any sort of trade deal as toxic.

So, what happens now? There is no timeline for the next meeting of the CPTPP parties. That means there is now time for the new government to conduct in-depth consultations over its proposal to adopt the deal. It also needs to commission the robust analysis that Labour called for in opposition, independent of MFAT and consultants like the NZIER who basically rubber stamped the previous shonky modelling.

They need to make sure it uses realistic models that also cover the broader economic implications, especially for jobs and income distribution. If the economics don’t stack up, as Labour said they didn’t with the original TPPA-12, then they have no basis for arguing that the CPTPP should proceed.

Their independent review also needs to include non-economic impacts on environment, health, human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi.

But before it does that work to advance a deal they previously refused to ratify, the new government needs to give priority to its proposed full and participatory review of trade policy. All existing and future negotiations must be frozen until that is done.

As far as Kelsey is concerned it needs to be her way or no way.

However both Labour and National support the CPTPP largely as it is – that’s 102 seats out of the 120 in Parliament.

Minister of Trade David Parker is speaking on RNZ now, dismissing Kelsey’s criticisms.

Concerns and opposition dominate at The Standard: The TPP11 negotiations: ISDS provisions are gone – almost

TPP now CPTPP, core elements agreed on

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on, and has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Who the hell thought of that name? But it’s just a long winded name.

RNZ: TPP deal revived once more, 20 provisions suspended

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal remains on track to be agreed by the eleven nations involved.

It has been a tumultuous couple of days for ministers and trade negotiators at Da Nang in Vietnam: 24 hours ago, the deal looked close to collapse, after Canada’s representatives failed to show for a meeting.

A key concern from Canada was reported to be that Malaysia and Vietnam wanted to opt out of requirements for fair workplace laws, including the elimination of child and forced labour.

Speaking to reporters late last night, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “still more important work to be done to ensure we reach the best deal for Canada and Canadian people”.

Everyone wants the best deal for their own countries and people, but they will only reach agreement by compromising.

But more high-pressure talks have brought agreement – in principle – on the “core elements” of a deal.

The officials did it by suspending 20 provisions of the original TPP, some of which related to protecting labour rights and the environment, although most dealt with intellectual property.

Stuff: Renamed TPP ‘a damned sight better’, could be in place in a few months

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made it clear on Saturday that concessions won, particularly on controversial investor-state disputes settlement clauses, had cleared the way for New Zealand to sign.

“This is not a perfect agreement but it is a damned sight better than what we had when we started,’ she told reporters after the leaders’ retreat at the Apec summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

“It is not perfect, no free trade agreement is. But it’s a lot better than where we were three weeks ago.”

That will please some  but others will never be happy with any trade agreement.

Trade ministers, including New Zealand’s David Parker, issued a statement acknowledging agreement on the core elements of the CPTPP.

They also released a list of “suspended issues”, which were essentially those that had been important to the US.

They can now only be written back into the deal by negotiation – and only by consensus of all the parties – if the US seeks to rejoin, perhaps in the post-President Donald Trump era.

That’s at least three years off. There’s obviously no need for US specific clauses.

That, in theory, means New Zealand can prevent the suspended changes to the ISDS regime from re-entering the agreement.

“If America comes in, it’s not an automatic lifting of those suspended provision … we worked hard to have lifted,” Ardern said.

The agreement would now be taken back to a select committee for the public and Parliament to assess it.

It will be interesting to see how much it is protested this time.

Ardern said New Zealand negotiators had worked hard on the ISDS clauses, which allow corporations to take legal action against host countries in special tribunals.

They have been narrowed in three areas:

* First, they no longer apply to investor screening, so decisions made under the Overseas Investment Act regime, administered by the Overseas Investment office, could not be challenged. Ardern said that was perhaps the most important change.
* Second, anyone who takes up a contract with the government would no longer be able to sue through ISDS provisions but must instead use domestic procedures.
* The third change related to financial services.

Also, a side letter with Australia has ruled out the use of ISDS provisions between the two countries, meaning ISDS does not apply to 80 per cent of foreign direct investment from TPP nations.

A “handful” of other countries have agreed in principle to ISDS side letters. but Ardern said she could not disclose them now.

Ardern said the ISDS provisions in the CPTPP were now similar to previous trade agreements New Zealand has signed, such as with China and Malaysia.

New Zealand had wanted to go further, but she regarded the progress over just a few weeks since she came to office as “a good outcome”.

But New Zealand had now put a line in the sand.

“We will not sign up to future agreements that include those clauses.”

Other suspensions in the new CPTPP included to copyright provisions. The US had achieved a “life plus 70 years” rule, but that would now drop back to the current “life plus 50 years”. That was worth $50 million to $55m a year to New Zealand.

Also, disclosure and administratives rules imposed on drug buying agency Pharmac would now be suspended, which would have cost $5.5m up-front and $2.5m a year.

The remaining hurdles to all 11 CPTPP nations are four outstanding issues, on which negotiation was still required.

They included how long Vietnam had to meet certain labour standards, and the time when Brunei and Malaysia will make changes to restrictions in their oil and gas industries.

The fourth issue applies to Canada, which is arguing for a “culture” carve out – essentially so it can offer bigger subsidies for French-language programming. New Zealand was a supporter of Canada on that issue.

So the CPTPP could take a while yet but looks back on track.

A fresh approach to negotiations with new leadership may have been a good thing for New Zealand.

TPP objection resolved, then talks abandoned

Some bizarre swings in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Vietnam.

On Thursday night  apparent agreement was thwarted by a late objection by Vietnam, but that was resolved during the day on Friday with another leaders meeting due to start at 8 pm on Friday evening.

However Canada refused to attend, so the talks were abandoned, leaving little chance of a resolution alongside the APEC conference, and putting the future of the eleven country

NZH: No deal: How the TPP talks collapsed

The future of TPP has been thrown into doubt after Canada’s sudden refusal to attend the final leaders’ meeting in Danang, Vietnam, which was then cancelled.

The 10 other leaders including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned up expecting Canada to be present at 8pm NZ time.

Instead they found Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, holding crisis meetings with Canada’s Justin Trudeau over an undisclosed issue.

Abe returned to the room saying Trudeau was not attending and so the meeting was abandoned by the other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Vietnam.

The dramas over Canada are not related to the bizarre events of last night in which the TPP deal was declared done by trade ministers, including Canada’s Trade Minister, but Vietnam then objected to a particular issue.

That issue was resolved during the day before the aborted leaders’ meeting.

Trade Minister David Parker said all of Canada’s issues appeared to have been resolved to their satisfaction last night.

“That seemed to change today.”

Parker said New Zealand was surprised at Canada’s sudden change of view and it was not the only country in the room that was. He said Australia was too.

It will be interesting to find out what suddenly turned Canada off the deal after coming close to agreement.

Canada are currently renegotiating the North American trade agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Mexico. Mexico is one of the 11 countries who have been trying to rescue the TPP after President Donald Trump puled the US out of it early this year.

Scathing coverage from Australia. Sydney Morning Herald: Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau sabotages Trans-Pacific Partnership, shocking leaders

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sabotaged a pact to salvage a multibillion-dollar, 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute, surprising leaders of the other nations, including Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.

“There were a lot of unhappy leaders left sitting there,” said an official who was in the meeting.

Mr Trudeau’s walk-out is deeply embarrassing for Canada’s Trade Minister Franois-Philippe Champagne, who has agreed to the deal.

Officials expected that the leaders would simply rubber-stamp what had already been agreed by the trade ministers, despite the agreement being unpopular in Canada.

The Australian: TPP: Canada ‘screwed everybody’ after trade talks no-show

CBC News (Canada): ‘Outstanding issues’: Trans-Pacific Partnership faces uncertain future after Trudeau skips leaders’ meeting

A planned meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership countries was unexpectedly cancelled Friday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped the event when bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart ended in disagreement.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said there is simply no consensus between the 11 member countries at this time.

“We made progress but, as we said coming in, there is no rush to conclude. There are outstanding issues for more than one country. One of those countries is Canada. We are working hard for Canadians and Canadian jobs in important industries such as automotive, agriculture, culture and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said.

Trudeau has signalled all week, during his travels in Asia, that Canada is not ready to put pen to paper on the agreement as there are still a number of lingering concerns. “Let me remind everyone Canada will not be rushed into a deal that is not in the best interest of Canada and Canadians,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

I didn’t see that reported here.

Liberal government officials refuted international reports — notably from Australian and New Zealand news outlets — that suggested Canada alone was to blame for delayed TPP talks.

“I can’t really speak for what you might be hearing from other countries,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at the summit Friday. “Certainly, my own understanding, our understanding, is that there are a few countries who continue to have some important issues that they’d like to be addressed. And I think that’s reasonable.”

That’s quite different from Australian and New Zealand reports. And this symbolism:

UPDATE from Stuff:  TPP nations ‘have made good progress’ on deal, no-show ‘a misunderstanding’

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be dead in the water just yet, with Canada’s trade minister denying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliberately skipped a leaders’ meeting in Vietnam.

François-Philippe Champagne said the 11 remaining nations, which include New Zealand, had “made good progress” on striking a deal, though there was still work to do.

Reuters reported on Saturday morning that the 11 nations had agreed to the core elements of a deal, but still had details to iron out.

Reuters said it had seen a draft of the nations’ final statement, which was due to be released later in the day.

The statement said a “limited set of provisions” from the original deal would be suspended, while further technical work was needed on areas that still needed consensus “to prepare finalised text for signature”. It did not say when that might happen.

A Canadian official said: “We’ve agreed to a framework towards the deal, with work programmes to deal with issues.”

It sounds like it is an evolving situation.

TPP-11 “down to the wire”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now in Vietnam where Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are “down to the wire”,  reported to be near agreement but held up at the last minute by one country (not New Zealand).

RNZ earlier today: Ardern: TPP talks down to the wire

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived at the APEC summit saying talks to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership are “down to the wire”.

Trade ministers of the 11 countries involved, including New Zealand’s David Parker, have been meeting on the sidelines of Apec at Danang in Vietnam.

New Zealand wants to drop the provisions on foreign corporations suing governments using overseas tribunals, but Ms Ardern admitted it had been tough going convincing others.

“I don’t want to predict what way it will go. There are a number of issues still on the table. Not all of them are ours.

“We are pursuing our interests but other countries certainly have their issues they continue to pursue. We of course are continuing to focus on both trying to balance our exporters’ needs but also our country’s.”

Ms Ardern doubted a TPP deal could be be done if if there was no agreement today.

But after apparently getting close to agreement there has been a setback. RNZ: ‘It’s not New Zealand holding up the consensus’ – Parker

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been put at peril by one country after leaders came achingly close to striking a deal last night.

Officials are now scrambling to revive the stalled trade pact after a series of meetings in Vietnam.

Mr Parker said Labour had got “some of what we wanted” and the issue had been “improved but not completely resolved”.

“We’ve made it clear that for the future we’re not on for [investor-state dispute settlement] clauses.”

Government leaders will resume their talks this evening New Zealand time.

Speaking in Danang, Trade Minister David Parker said ministers thought a deal had been struck when their meeting finished about 10pm on Thursday night.

But in a “somewhat surprising” development, once it was passed on to officials, it emerged one country was still holding out.

“There was celebratory clapping and back-slapping,” Mr Parker said.

“It was then turned over by ministers to officials … and one of the parties said that they had not reached agreement.”

Mr Parker would not name the country responsible, but denied it was either New Zealand or Canada.

“It’s not New Zealand holding up the consensus. We reached agreement.”

Talks will resume this evening (NZ time) to try and get the agreement over the line,

TPP and the coalition of pragmatic change

The new Government has claimed to be a coalition of change, and there will be some significant changes. However the optimism of left wing activists may be tempered somewhat by the levels of pragmatism required in government.

The first mayor example looks like being the Trans Pacific Partnership, forced by a timetable already in place.

Fran O’Sullivan: Eyes of world on our Coalition of Change

The Ardern Administration is displaying considerable pragmatism in its first days in power.

Workarounds have already become the favoured mechanism as Cabinet Ministers marry their wish to deliver on election promises with the realities of running a government.

Ardern is a quick study.

…she was schooled by her predecessor the arch-pragmatist Helen Clark.

Hence, she sucked it up when Turnbull denied her request for New Zealand to settle 150 refugees from Manus Island here.

The more interesting diplomatic gambit was the agreement reached by the two Prime Ministers to use a mutual exchange of letters to guarantee the mechanism for settling investor disputes between companies and governments, instead of the mechanism laid down in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Like the earlier mechanism for achieving a ban on foreigners buying residential houses in New Zealand there is considerable diplomatic and legal craft involved.

Trade Minister David Parker and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will be outlining these subtle policy shifts when they meet their counterparts in Vietnam ahead of the Prime Minister’s own visit for the Apec Leaders Meeting.

If all goes to plan and the TPP-11 is agreed by the relevant Apec leaders it will be a triumph for Ardern and Parker. They will be able to argue that National did not try hard enough to protect New Zealand’s domestic interests in the TPP negotiations.

Labour had already positioned themselves to push for some protections but also to go with the TPP.

Bloomberg: New Zealand’s PM Sees Benefits for Her Country in the TPP Trade Deal

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her nation would benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, indicating she won’t let concerns over dispute resolution clauses scupper the trade deal.

“There are clear benefits for our exporters in this agreement,” Ardern said in an interview in her office in Wellington Tuesday, two days before she travels to the APEC leaders meeting in Vietnam where the Pacific-rim trade pact will be discussed. “New Zealand does not have the access to, for instance, the Japanese market that the Australians do. This would bring benefits to our beef industry, our wine industry, our kiwifruit industry.”

Ardern, whose Labour Party took power last month, has already moved to ban foreign buyers of existing residential property, removing one of the key stumbling blocks to her government signing up to the TPP. She still has concerns about the pact’s investor state dispute settlement clauses, which would allow foreign corporations to sue member states in disputes.

However, Ardern indicated New Zealand may not pursue those concerns at the expense of reaching agreement.

“Our objective has been to raise the issue, to pursue it as far as we’re able,” she said.

Some political gains but also allowing major trade gains to go ahead would be a win-win for Ardern and Labour.

Pragmatism to the forefront and ‘change’ in the background won’t please everyone. Anti-TPP activists will be disappointed, but no one voted for them.

Ardern’s dilemma, TPP-11 or TPP-0

One of the biggest tests for new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labour led Government is dealing with the Trans Pacific Partnership that, renegotiated after the withdrawal of the US, is referred to as TPP-11.

Labour have long insisted changes needed to be made before they would support the TPP, but the reality of trying to secure a major trade agreement that includes Japan makes it a tricky situation.

Japan has threatened that if New Zealand tries to restart negotioations then TPP-0 is likely.

RNZ report:

Ms Ardern also said the government would try to find a solution on foreign home buyers before she left for the APEC meetings next week.

She said if the government was able to find the right mechanism, it could legislate against purchases of existing properties by non-residents before the TPP trade deal is ratified.

Ms Ardern told Morning Report that would remove one of the government’s main stumbling blocks to signing the TPP, and that would then allow the government to focus on dispute settlement provisions in the trade deal.

Also:  Labour softening on TPP clauses, says critic

A critic of the Trans Pacific Partnership says Labour has softened on a provision to allow foreign investors to sue governments even though its coalition partners have spoken out about it.

New Zealand First and the Greens have questioned the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) schedule in the original TPP and the updated TPP-11 which excludes the United States.

The settlement provisions allow a corporation to take legal action against a foreign government for introducing legislation that harms their investment or profits.

But the government was missing a crucial opportunity ahead of APEC next week, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.

It was disappointing that Labour stepped back from the criticism it had that the economics of the agreement did not stack up, Professor Kelsey said.

“[The government] seems willing to proceed now with the agreement largely unchanged and indeed possibly unchanged at all if they can get through their ban on foreign investment in residential housing under the existing wording,” she said.

Kelsey has always strongly opposed the TPP.

NZH: David Parker targets trade deal and bar on house sales to overseas buyers

New Trade Minister David Parker is considering advice that an explicit ban on house sales to offshore speculators could be acceptable under the TPP trade deal if it is passed into New Zealand law before the trade deal comes into force.

TPP negotiators from 11 countries, including New Zealand, are meeting in Tokyo today to try to finalise preparations for the TPP leaders’ summit in mid November, which Jacinda Ardern will attend.

With President Donald Trump having withdrawn the US from the deal in January, the entry-into-force provision has to be changed.

Parker would not comment on whether that should be a simple majority of TPP11 countries or whether it must also include Japan – which has taken over leadership of TPP since the US withdrawal.

“We must find a solution to allow us to ban overseas buyers of existing New Zealand homes for us to proceed with TPP11,” Parker said. “We are open-minded as to where that solution sits, whether it sits within TPP or outside of TPP.”

Parker said New Zealand officials in Tokyo were also raising the issue of the Government’s opposition to Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] clauses, although his language around expectations of success on that issue was soft.

“We don’t want the ISD provisions applying to us and so we will be instructing our negotiators to use their best endeavours to fix that.”

It is clear that the issue on which there will be no compromise is the ban on house sales.

“I want to leave Apec assured that we are not trading away the right of New Zealanders to ban foreign buyers of our homes.”

“There are undoubted trade benefits in TPP11. They are obviously not nearly as significant as they were when the US was part of the deal but nonetheless a residue is still important, particularly into Japan.

“But if I was forced to trade between the principle of protecting New Zealanders’ rights to have control over who owns our houses and TPP, which I hope we will not be forced to choose between, then our promise in respect of who buys New Zealand homes will prevail,” he said.

“I am reasonably confident that we can avoid that binary choice.”

Nikkei Asian Review:  ‘TPP 11’ faces new challenges as clock ticks down

New Zealand’s demand for renegotiation could obliterate tenuous agreement

Chief negotiators from the 11 remaining TPP nations are preparing to meet outside Tokyo starting Monday, hoping to hammer out a general agreement early next month in Vietnam on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

But New Zealand, a leading proponent of the “TPP 11” effort, suddenly seems to be wavering. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who took office Thursday, has pledged to renegotiate the trade deal, seeking restrictions on foreign real estate investment.

…if Ardern holds to her demand for a renegotiation, momentum toward an agreement could crumble. The 11 nations already agreed not to alter the original terms of the pact, and “if exceptions are made for New Zealand alone, the whole thing will fall apart,” said an official at Japan’s trade ministry.

Some in Tokyo advocate simply removing New Zealand from the group, a solution that would reduce the amount of milk Japan imports under the deal. But such a step would be difficult given that New Zealand is a founding member of the TPP.

“The only option is to convince them not to renegotiate,” said an official in Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat.

Ardern and Parker seem to be trying to find a way to enforce the one thing they are left trying to insist on, a ban of foreign ownership, without sinking the whole agreement.

TPP-11, TPP-10 (minus NZ), or TPP-0?

Ardern on the TPP

One of the first big tests for the incoming Jacinda Ardern led government will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which is in the final stages of renegotiation after Donald Trump withdrew the United States, and will need to be addressed at the APEC conference next month.

Ardern has indicated Labour may accept the 11 country trade agreement as long as there were tweaks limiting foreign purchases of property.

Stuff:  Jacinda Ardern: Changes to trade deals possible – walking away from TPP ‘not necessary’

Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern faces a tough sell to impose last minute changes on a free trade agreement between the 11 Pacific Rim countries, as they set to close the deal next month.

Ardern has confirmed she will be heading to Vietnam in November for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders forum.

It’s her first big test on the international stage where Jacinda Ardern will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of US President Donald Trump, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Recent reports have also suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin will be attending.

No less, her yet-to-be-appointed Trade Minister is expected to chair a sideline meeting in the dying throes of negotiations to reach a deal on the TPP11, and Ardern expects to change tack on negotiations and push for a ban on foreign property speculators.

David Parker was Labour’s spokesperson for Trade & Export Growth, and is one of the few incoming ministers with previous experience in Cabinet.

Labour will need someone with experience to dive straight into this important issue.

Leaders involved were hoping to sign the new agreement on the sidelines of APEC,  which meant a tight timeline for trade officials to gain concessions while working to hold ground in other areas.

Ardern She told TVNZ’s current affairs show Q+A she was confident a Labour government policy to ban foreign ownership would not force her to walk from the deal.

From the Q+A interview transcript:

CORIN So you want those things. Do you want, I guess, the tag that can come with it — that sort of Brexit, nationalist sort of tag that can come with that? The idea that we’re suddenly not outward-looking so much.

JACINDA I think probably that sentiment builds up not just around economic markers. In fact, we are a party that believes, for instance, on the important role of trade. We are a free and fair trade party. We are not closed-minded in the role that we have to play in the world.

CORIN But you’re putting in a foreign buyers ban.

JACINDA Yeah, but that’s because we have an absolute failure in our housing market and we’re willing to make sure that we act to preserve the right of anyone who chooses to make New Zealand home to buy a home here. But if I can just finish. That sense of whether or not we’re a closed-off country who isn’t open to the world, I would absolutely refute. New Zealand has always marked out is path as an independent foreign-policy voice but also a world leader. I want us to be seen to be open to ideas but a world leader in areas like the environment and climate change – not closed-minded but outward-facing but looking after our interests.

CORIN You might refute it, but the message that’s sent to investors and to the globe might be that New Zealand is looking more inward and more worried about banning foreigners from buying homes.

JACINDA Well, given that, actually, most of our trading nations who’ve recently signed free trade agreements have done exactly the same thing. I doubt they–

CORIN But we don’t have the same luxury as them.

JACINDA I doubt they look upon us as doing anything they wouldn’t consider doing for themselves.

CORIN We’re $200 billion in debt to the world.

JACINDA We don’t have the luxury of making sure that housing is affordable? We do. We are a prosperous nation. If you can’t get the most basic thing right as ensuring your people are housed in affordable, dry homes, then I don’t know what kind of country we can promise to be to anyone.

CORIN So is that a higher priority than securing a trade deal involving Japan, the world’s third-largest economy? 

JACINDA I refuse to accept they’re mutually exclusive.

CORIN Would you walk away from the TPP, involving Japan, over that issue?

JACINDA Again, that’s not necessary. Our view is that it will be possible to balance our desire to make sure that we provide housing within our domestic housing market that’s affordable by easing demand and banning foreign speculators from buying existing homes, whilst meeting our trade goals as well.

CORIN Have you considered other mechanisms that would do the same thing?

JACINDA Look, we’ll be looking to ways that we can balance that desire to ban foreign speculators. Whichever mechanism we use to deliver it, that is our goal.

CORIN Is your coalition partner comfortable with progressing the TPP?

JACINDA Look, we all see the need to grow exports for us to see extra value gained for our exporters. That is a consensus amongst us. There are concerns with things like ISDS clauses. That’s something that we will continue to work through.

CORIN Well, first of all, are you going to go to APEC?

JACINDA Yes.

CORIN Do you think you can go there and convince the other parties to renegotiate this deal? I mean, you’re under a lot of time pressure, because they’ve actually been working on this right up to the last minute. They want a deal signed, don’t they? And you’ve got to go there and try and convince them to hold off.

JACINDA My job is to go there and convince them to sign to an agreement that will be in our best interests as well. I’m not going to set out on this task, already having decided it’s too hard.

CORIN You don’t feel the pressure of some big players on the world stage that will be wanting you to sign that?

JACINDA Look, I’ve operated in an international environment, albeit a slightly different one, before. I’m used to different forms of negotiation in that kind of environment. Absolutely everyone brings their own interests to the table; that’s what a negotiation is. That’s what we’ve just had for the last 10 days. But my job will be to advocate on behalf of New Zealanders – both homeowners, potential homebuyers and exporters.