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).

Pushback against Trump’s tariff proposals

Widespread concerns over Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariff proposals, and the threat of a trade war, are so far being dismissed by the White House.

Politico: Frustrated White House free traders mount campaign to weaken Trump tariffs

Since President Donald Trump announced plans last week to hit steel and aluminum imports with new tariffs, his trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have been all over television celebrating their victory and rebutting suggestions that the move would incite a damaging trade war.

But economic adviser Gary Cohn and other free-trade advocates inside the White House and the Treasury Department are mounting a last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Trump’s head-turning decision, even as the president insisted Monday that he wasn’t going to be convinced out of it.

Cohn and like-minded officials in the administration are hoping the parade of senior GOP lawmakers, donors, lobbyists and business groups loudly opposing the pending decision will convince Trump that his proposed tariffs will damage the U.S. economy. There was a growing sense among some administration officials that the best way to talk Trump out of the tariffs was to make sure he hears from people outside of the White House, since he’s ignoring advisers inside the building.

RNZ:  Republicans ‘extremely worried’ by Trump’s metal tariffs plan

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that steel imports would face a 25 percent tariff and aluminium 10 percent.

US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he was “extremely worried” about the impact of a trade war, adding that it could undermine economic gains.

But Mr Trump pushed back during a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We’re not backing down,” he told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday that Mr Trump was “very confident” the US would win any trade war.

Mr Trump’s Monday comments came an hour after Mr Ryan released a statement urging the White House to reconsider its plan.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” Mr Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

“The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardise those gains.”

Many countries and trade groups have expressed concern, including the UK, EU, Canada, Australia (and New Zealand). And also the World Trade Organisation:

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday also called on member states to “stop the fall of the first dominoes” of a trade war.

“Once we start down this path it will be very difficult to reverse direction,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo told negotiators in Geneva on Monday. “An eye for an eye will leave us all blind and the world in a deep recession.”

There is also pushback from within the US:  Companies, industry groups target Congress to derail Trump tariffs

Automakers, business groups and farmers took their fight against U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum to Capitol Hill on Monday, betting that Republican lawmakers would stand up to the White House on their behalf.

By turning to Congress, lobbyists for industries that could lose in a trade war are making a bet that Republican lawmakers would stick to their traditional support for open trade, and potentially use legislative power to derail tariffs.

Trump and administration trade officials over the weekend said they are determined to go ahead with protective tariffs for steel and aluminum, despite the potential for retaliation by trading partners.

Industry groups opposed to the tariffs got support on Monday from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other senior Republicans. Some Democratic lawmakers from auto-producing states have praised Trump’s move, joining unions long skeptical of open trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA).

Automakers are reaching out to senators and governors and asking them to make the case against tariffs to the White House, officials said.

Manufacturers of metal-intensive products such as cars and airplanes already are wrestling with rising prices for steel and aluminum, in part because of tight production capacity.

Administration officials in TV interviews over the weekend downplayed the impact on automakers as adding only up to about $200 to the price of a vehicle — a fraction of the average $35,000 sales price. However, Goldman Sachs said in a research report on Sunday that the tariffs could depress General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co’s adjusted operating incomes by $1 billion each.

Groups representing auto dealers weighed in to support the manufacturers. In a flattening auto market, headlines about trade wars and tariffs could cause Americans to put off buying new vehicles, said Cody Lusk, president and chief executive of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

“Everybody is reaching out to their allies on Capitol Hill just to make sure they are aware of what’s at stake,” Lusk said.

Farm groups representing producers of wheat, corn and soybeans, the top U.S. crop exports valued at nearly $37 billion last year, joined criticism of the proposed tariffs on Monday. Farm groups had been among Trump’s core support group during the 2016 election.

This may all fall on deaf ears. Trump often seems intent on being a tough decision maker and seems obsessed by ‘winning’, and has said it would be easy to win a trade war with the rest of the world.

But he is losing support.

WTO agreement to eliminate agricultural export subsidies

A World Trade Organisation conference in Kenya has agreed to eliminate the ability of WTO members to subsidise their agricultural exports.

This will benefit New Zealand as we are one of the few major agriculture traders who don’t use subsidies.

NZ Herald reports in Export deal will boost dairy prices, Fonterra says.

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said the historic breakthrough would be good news for dairy farmers.

“For years the use – or even the threat – of export subsidies have resulted in world dairy prices below their true level, reducing returns to dairy farmers,” Wilson said.

It should also help with our meat, wool and other agricultural exports.

A World Trade Organisation ministerial conference held in Kenya and attended by New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay has agreed on the WTO Nairobi package, which will eliminate the ability of WTO members to subsidise their agricultural exports.

That is an outcome successive New Zealand governments have sought for decades, with trade envoys identifying agricultural subsidies, along with tariffs, as one of the biggest obstacles to free trade.

McClay said it had been illegal to subsidise the exports of industrial goods for more than half a century, and it was a major achievement to have that extended to agriculture.

“This outcome directly benefits New Zealand agricultural exporters who have to compete in some markets with subsidised goods.”

New Zealand has led the way in free trade and has become competitive in an uneven playing field. As the rest of the world moves in the same direction our trade will benefit more.

A survey by the Worldwatch Institute last year showed New Zealand’s largely subsidy-free status was not the norm – and that the top 21 food-producing countries paid out an estimated US$486 billion ($722 billion) in farming subsidies in 2012.

China paid US$165 billion in 2012, mostly to support rice and wheat farmers, with Japan paying US$65 billion, the European Union more than US$100 billion and the United States $30 billion.

That’s huge subsidies that will have distorted pricing.

Federated Farmers National President William Rolleston said it was a positive and potentially significant deal. “Given the scale and significance of New Zealand’s agricultural export earnings, the removal of any instrument that can distort market forces and disadvantage our exporters is an important step forward,” he said.

“Achievements at a WTO level also remove the need to develop bilateral solutions with individual trading partners, so we hope there are more deals of this nature to come from the WTO.”

The deal completed a year of important international wins in what have been difficult market conditions for much of New Zealand’s farming sector, he said.

Agricultural production and markets will always have ups and downs, but this should reduce the impact of the downs and boost the returns from the ups.

GCSB watchdog working – inquiry into foreign intelligence activities

Cheryl Gwyn, the GCSB watchdog (Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security) has initiated and announced an inquiry into the way the GCSB undertakes foreign intelligence activities.

It’s good to see Gwyn proactively doing her job. She won’t be able to report publicly on specific details but should assure us in general that her watchdog role is working as it should be.

MEDIA RELEASE

Inquiry into the Government Communications Security Bureau’s process for determining its foreign intelligence activity – 14  May 2015, 3.00pm

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn has commenced an inquiry into the way the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) considers undertaking foreign intelligence activities.

The inquiry is in response to issues recently raised around a Minister of the Crown’s bid to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

“I consider the issues raised about the process followed when the GCSB considers undertaking particular intelligence activity are of sufficient public importance to warrant an own motion inquiry,” Ms Gwyn said.

“While it is unlikely that I will be able to publicly confirm or deny the specific allegations relating to this process, I can inquire more generally into how the GCSB determines, within its statutory constraints, what intelligence activity to undertake and what policies and procedures are in place to regulate its activities.”

The Inspector-General has initiated the inquiry under her own motion powers pursuant to sections 11(1)(a) and (ca) of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996 rather than in response to a specific complaint.

The following questions frame the inquiry. They relate to the amended Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 which was not in force at the time of the specific alleged events. In contrast to its predecessor, the amended Act provides explicitly for the safeguards of political neutrality and the involvement of the Commissioner of Security Warrants.

The Inspector-General will approach the inquiry in terms of the following questions:

  • how the GCSB determines whether proposed foreign intelligence activity falls within its statutory functions and within New Zealand’s particular intelligence requirements;

  • whether and how the GCSB assesses the benefits and risks of the proposed activity;

  • where there may be any issue of potential or perceived political advantage, how the GCSB identifies and manages any issue that may arise from its duty of political neutrality; and

  • how the GCSB keeps the responsible Minister(s) and the Commissioner of Security Warrants informed, and ensures effective ministerial oversight, particularly where the proposed activity involves a potentially contested assessment of the international relations and well-being and/or the economic well-being of New Zealand.

“I have notified the Acting Director of the GCSB of my inquiry and she has assured me of the Bureau’s full co-operation,” Ms Gwyn said.

The Inspector-General will provide a report of her broad findings to the public at the conclusion of her inquiry.

Notes:  The Inspector-General’s office will advise of the likely timing of release of the inquiry report once that is known, but the Inspector-General does not expect to make any other public statements on this inquiry until the inquiry is concluded.

About the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is an independent statutory officer, appointed under warrant by the Governor-General to provide oversight of the GCSB and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, to assist responsible Ministers in ensuring that those agencies act lawfully and with propriety, and to undertake independent investigation of complaints.

The powers and functions of the office were expanded by legislation in late 2013, and its resources significantly increased, with provision for the appointment of a Deputy Inspector and a standing investigative staff. The Inspector-General’s functions and powers include a requirement to conduct an ongoing programme of review of procedures and compliance systems of the intelligence and security agencies. That review work involves scrutiny of warrants and authorisations that have been granted to each agency by responsible Ministers and the Commissioner of Security Warrants and also more focussed review of particular operational activities and the agencies’ governing procedures and policies.

South Korea spied on Tim Groser

South Korea also spied on New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser.

If governments are wanting to promote candidates for major international roles surely they do their homework on the other candidates.

So South Korea will have spied on New Zealand and on Tim Groser. So will the other countries that where promoting candidates for the World Trade Organisation’s top job.

I don’t have any proof of this – but then Nicky Hager seems to make narrow assumptions that aren’t always supported by solid evidence so I can presume stuff too.

I would be astonished if South Korea and many other countries didn’t keep an eye or five on what New Zealand and it’s Government ministers are up to, especially on things related to their own interests.

So I’m sure South Korea would have spied on us to some extent.

Is spying on countries you’re trying to do business with bad?

It depends on to what extent. If it’s done to be better informed about what you might be dealing with then it’s hardly a scandal.

If spying was done to try and discredit or destabilise another country then I’d be more concerned. Even Nicky Hager doesn’t seem to be claiming anything like that.

I’m sure the GCSB will continue to keep monitoring other countries. And I’m sure South Korea do their share of spying too, including on New Zealand and on Tim Groser.

Meanwhile New Zealand play South Africa in the cricket world cup semi-final today. I’m sure they’ve been busy spying on each other, doing their best to analyse strengths and weaknesses in the opposition.