Envirologue by Dave Hansford

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Envirologue: Fool me Once: Lessons on the TPPA from Free-Trade History

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  • Morgan Nichol,

    Who gets the upside? It seems like TPPA was originally a pretty ordinary deal, but then the Americans got involved and it went crazy. I see why they want it, but why do we still want it?

    Can it just be about Groser wanting a sweet job once he finally leaves our parliament? He's already demonstrated unequivocally that he will cross pretty much any line to feather his nest.

    I mean, do people really believe the Americans will ever open their borders to us? They don't seem to play that way. We should just have separate agreements with the other less belligerent players.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 313 posts Report Reply

  • Barnaby Nicholls,

    It's been said already, but I think it bears repeating: what on Earth are the positives in this deal? It doesn't even look economically enticing in the short-term, let alone the long. I haven't heard a single solid reason - even the cheerleaders at the Herald mouth vague platitudes about free trade being the bees knees and how all the TPPA's problems are because the government just isn't selling them.

    If there's something so great that it's worth sacrificing a prudent and successful health-funding model, environmental and public health protections, and even, goddammit, the country's sovereignty itself (investor-state dispute settlement is a joke - you want to hand over NZ's ability to make laws to some trade arbitration panel? FFS), you'd think someone would have spoken up by now to highlight it. The US is never going to give up agricultural subsidies, so it's not like our almighty agriculture sector is getting anything either. So I respectfully demand the right to read something into the silence - cheerleaders have nothing solid because there is nothing solid to cheer about. Why go for it? Golf time at the top table?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    America and the TPPA: A fading power trying to hijack the future.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    The American public doesn't want it either. It's large corporations that don't have any allegiance to any national laws, trying to refashion the world in their own image.

    Maybe one day the "one world govt" won't be such a bad thing, but not at the behest of the mega-corporations, thanks.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Thanks for a good piece Dave.

    Every time the TPPA gets mentioned I find myself asking, 'What's in it for NZ?' and I've yet to receive a single worthwhile answer. While Grosser and Key froth on about an unspecified increase in access to foreign markets, none of the documents leaked so far suggest that NZ has anything at all to gain from the agreement. Not one single thing.

    I realise Grosser is anticipating a high-powered job at the end of the process but to my mind, even contemplating the handover of our sovereignty to a bunch of US corporate lawyers borders on treason. The Nats are obviously a willing party to this one-sided agreement -- whatever the cost to future generations. But surely our opposition parties should be screaming from the rooftops.

    I know the Greens oppose the TTPA, but where's Labour gone?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1381 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Alfie,

    but where's Labour gone?

    Very good question.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Alfie,

    where’s Labour gone?

    Bloody quiet :(
    On past record, they too tend to roll over and bark whenever Washington glances our way.
    Lots of people here fighting it - the indomitable Jane Kelsey, and Bryan Bruce is doing some good stuff.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    where’s Labour gone?

    Bloody quiet :(

    Labour’s Te Tai Tokerau victory has effectively meant one less voice opposing the TPPA.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    The last Labour govt was negotiating quite happily for this. Let's not subscribe to the fallacy this was invented by National. Maybe Labour was negotiating a more limited scope, but who knows?

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to TracyMac,

    And "negotiating" fhe way a mouse negotiates with a moose.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I do remember reading the government led assessments of the US-Australia FTA deal a decade ago at uni and they were short on actual detail, with the benefits generally flowing from the "invisibles" side of thing, that being the liberalisation on investment, copyright or the like. All of which was hard for them to quantify before the deal.

    It would be interesting to see a decade on if those generous guesses have come true or can be proven

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1019 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    This is the sort of thing we're buying into ...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Ben Austin,

    I do remember reading the government led assessments of the US-Australia FTA deal a decade ago at uni and they were short on actual detail, with the benefits generally flowing from the "invisibles" side of thing, that being the liberalisation on investment, copyright or the like. All of which was hard for them to quantify before the deal.

    It would be interesting to see a decade on if those generous guesses have come true or can be proven

    Australia was able to export its cars to the States under the USAUFTA, but they didn't sell in big numbers over there. And now that the Aussie car industry is shutting down for good, it's become a fat lot of use. Aussie farm products are still shut out of the US market.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Australia was able to export its cars to the States under the USAUFTA, but they didn’t sell in big numbers over there

    Because they only appealed to people who wanted a great big sedan with a 1960s pushrod V8, which the US auto industry also made. (In fact, the Aussie V8s started out as clones of obsolete US models).

    If they’d produced well designed cars with modern technology (as the Germans and Japanese do) then they would have sold overseas even without an FTA.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to TracyMac,

    The last Labour govt was negotiating quite happily for this. Let's not subscribe to the fallacy this was invented by National. Maybe Labour was negotiating a more limited scope, but who knows?

    Started in 2005, the TPP was NZ negotiating with Chile, Brunei and Singapore; the original four countries. It was a very limited scope. The US didn't come aboard until February 2008, at which point it would've been their one set of national economic interests against the other four countries and could probably have been managed.
    The right conveniently talks up how Labour thought the TPP was a grand idea because it was commenced under Labour, which is true, but the huge expansion of both the parties and the scope has only happened since National came to power. Every additional negotiating party after the US has come in since after the 2008 election, and at every point since then National has been the one that's kept us in the deal. By the time it became apparent that the US was pushing the trans-national corporations' barrow to the exclusion of all else, Labour was well and truly gone.

    [citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership]

    ETA: We can tell the original scope would have been limited because we have seen what is in other completed trade deals to which the original countries are parties. Look at the NZ-China deal, for example. We don't need to have texts from the early negotiations to have a pretty good idea of what would have been on the table. And what's on the table now is perfectly in line with the US history of *cough*trade*cough* deals.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Yes, that is true re the original scope far as NZ's involvement was concerned. I suppose my perception is coloured by the fact that here in Oz, Labor was negotiating away on the expanded version. Although at least trying to put a couple of small brakes on the sovereignty issue.

    On another front, the Guardian has an interesting article on who got paid what in the US Senate to vote for the fast-tracking legislation last week. Turns out Repubs are worth twice as much on average as Democrats. http://gu.com/p/498nf

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to TracyMac,

    Turns out Democrats are far cheaper to purchase

    FTFY :P

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    True dat. :-/

    (Sorry, in reply to Matthew)

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Finally. John Key has admitted that Pharmac may be phucked under the TPPA.

    Mr Key made his comments to reporters in Christchurch yesterday when questioned about the latest leak of TPP text by Wikileaks, which suggests there will be greater requirements on Pharmac for transparency in its decision-making and potential for review.

    "Ultimately for New Zealanders, they pay $5 for prescription drugs sponsored by Pharmac," Mr Key said.

    "The Government pays any additional costs. So whatever happens as a result of TPP, New Zealanders are going to carry on paying $5 for their prescriptions."

    Translated: The taxpayer will cough up the difference.

    He said again that the Government would not sign anything that undercuts Pharmac in a dramatic way

    I guess one man's dramatic is another man's 'Moving right along... nothing to see here folks.'

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1381 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Morgan Nichol,

    Who gets the upside?

    Multinational corporations.If you look at this as an agreement between TNCs and a bunch of nation-states it makes more sense.

    When I was younger I foolishly thought that one day a TNC would outright buy a small country like, I dunno, Nauru or Kiribati, and use that to leverage their way into the WTO, UN etc. Eventually I realised that they already had enough influence over the USA that there was no need.

    The TPP is mostly about fixing the problem of democracy interfering with profitability. The more of one we want the less of the other we can have. But if we redefine democracy as "one dollar one vote" the problem goes away...

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1193 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And will the TPPA really force open the agricultural markets of America and Japan, as its most ardent defenders claim?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Getting anything through the US tripartite legislative system is a nightmare. In this case, for TPPA supporters :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    It's heartening to see that a lot of Americans don't want the TPPA either. A group of conservatives have set up an anti-TPPA website encouraging voters to contact congress and fight the bill.

    Obamatrade would subject the U.S. to the jurisdiction of two systems of foreign tribunals, including World Bank and United Nations tribunals. These foreign tribunals would be empowered to order payment of U.S. tax dollars to foreign firms if U.S. laws undermined the foreign firms’ new special privileges.

    We see US corporations suing our government... Americans view it the other way around. Either way, the TPPA doesn't appear to benefit democracy in any form whatsoever. Of course big pharma and the major tobacco companies would disagree.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1381 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And will the TPPA really force open the agricultural markets of America and Japan, as its most ardent defenders claim?

    Yeah, sure, in about 10 years they promise to start opening them up. Just like they did with most of the other fre trade agreements. But there are always get-out clauses, and they always use them.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1193 posts Report Reply

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