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Protests against the Transpacific Partnership Agreement

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The Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is being negotiated at the Sky City Casino in Auckland this week between NZ and 8 other countries, including the U.S. The US wants it to be completed by November 2011. The TPP is much more than a trade agreement. Trade is only a small part of it. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is concerned that it will stop future New Zealand governments from doing things that are in the interests of working people and most New Zealanders. Similar agreements the US has signed impose policies that New Zealand voters have repeatedly voted down and would oppose if they had the choice.

A noisy protest was held outside Sky City on Monday morning by trade unionists and community activists. A public meeting will take place on Tuesday 7th December starting at 6pm at St-Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland with Jane Kelsey speaking.

Links: TPP Watch | NZ Not For Sale | NZ Council of Trade Unions | Scoop Coverage

Why should we be concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

If these negotiations succeed they will create a mega-treaty across nine countries that will put a straightjacket around what policies and laws our governments can adopt for the next century.

Which countries are involved in these negotiations?

As of November 2010 there are nine: in addition to the US and New Zealand, there are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

When do the negotiations begin?

There have already been three rounds of negotiations. The fourth round is in Auckland on the week of 6 December 2010 – at the Sky City casino!

What could the TPPA affect?

Everything from foreign ownership of land and resources, including mining licenses, media laws and support for local NZ content, Treaty settlements, control of financial speculation, the price of medicines, to compulsory labelling of food, plain packaging of cigarettes, privatisation contracts for water, prison, schools and hospitals under public private partnerships (PPPs) …

Which NZ policies will be key targets for the US?

The US trade office publishes an annual hit list of ‘trade barriers’ in each country. NZ’s current sins include:
- restrictions on sale and manufacture of GMOs and labeling of GM foods
- NZ’s strict quarantine and labeling (sanitary and phytosanitary) rules
- Parallel importing, especially for music and computer programmes
- Intellectual property protection in the digital media and pharmaceuticals.
- the Pharmac scheme for buying drugs and subsidies
- voluntary local content quotas for broadcasting
- dominance of Telecom over competitors and new entrants
- increased restrictions on foreign investments

How come it is described as a ‘trade’ agreement?

That’s a clever branding exercise. It is really an agreement that guarantees rights to foreign investors that operate out from any of the TPP countries – think entertainment (Warners and Sony), pharmaceuticals (Merck and Pfizer), mining (RTZ and BP), tobacco (Philip Morris), retailers (Wal-Mart and Woolworths), finance sector (Merrill Lynch, Westpac, AIG, Macquarie, JP Morgan), agro-business (Cargill, Monsanto), private water operators (Bechtel, Veolia) and much more.

That sounds like the MAI that we defeated in the 1990s!

It is the Multilateral Agreement on Investment on steroids. The TPP is effectively a bill of rights for big corporations that is designed in secret and shackles future governments and our democratic right to decide future policy and laws.

How would a TPPA give foreign investors special rights?

That works at several levels.
1. laws that allow foreign investment would be locked so they could only be weakened, unless the government reserves the right to strengthen them before it signs the agreement. Previous NZ governments have already done that for everything but sensitive land, privatisation of existing SOEs, and a small number of assets.
2. it would guarantee foreign firms are consulted over proposed new laws and the government would have to show how it had responded to their views. NZers have no such guarantee of input into our own laws!
3. if the government does go ahead with a new policy or law that the investors say affects the value of their investment they could sue the government for millions of dollars for breaching their rights under the TPPA (trumping our domestic laws). The case would be heard in a secret international court run by the UN or World Bank, not in our domestic courts.

Sounds like Warners and the Hobbits on a massive scale!

That’s a really important lesson – we saw how one company could pressure the government to change labour laws overnight and get massive tax subsidies from a government that says there’s no money for health, early childcare, public transport, … Imagine the ‘chilling effect’ of a threat from these foreign companies to take a law suit against the government if it goes ahead with a law they don’t like.

What are some examples of restrictions?

Current examples of laws currently being considered include plain packaging of cigarettes, tighter regulations onshore and offshore mining exploration, stopping foreign sales of taonga that are under Treaty claims, banning the sale of the kind of toxic financial products that fuelled the financial crisis, restrictions on sale of strategic assets to foreign firms, a tax on ‘hot’ money flowing into and out of the country …

How does the NZ government justify the TPP?

The familiar line about better access for Fonterra’s milk powder into the huge US market. As US economist Joseph Stiglitz said “Most of these ‘free trade’ agreements are … managed trade agreements and they’re mostly managed for the advantage of the United States, which has the bulk of the negotiating power.” There is no real negotiation and “one can’t think that New Zealand would ever get anything that it cares about.” They also think a TPPA can morph into an Asia-Pacific wide FTA – yeah, right!

What can we do about it?

  • Get the word around all your networks, facebook pages, websites and media
  • Ask your MPs, local government and iwi leaders if they know what’s going on
  • Demand the government holds an inquiry to bring the negotiations into the daylight
  • Organise meetings and action around the TPPA
  • For information and campaigning websites on the TPPA in Aotearoa and internationally see www.tppwatch.org, www.tppdigest.org, www.nznotforsale.org, and follow the links.
  • Get No Ordinary Deal, ed. Jane Kelsey from www.bwb.co.nz, bookseller or local library.

Maritime Union says TPPA free trade deal should be dropped

The Maritime Union is calling for the abandonment of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, describing the free trade plan as a “sell out to global corporations.”

Maritime Union General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the great majority of New Zealanders and even our political representatives have little understanding of the implications of free trade deals like the TPPA.

“Free trade agreements such as the TPPA are giving global corporations more power to do as they want regardless of what is good for the majority of people.”

“Decisions that affect all of us are being made behind closed doors in free trade stitch ups.”

The Maritime Union is actively supporting a number of campaigns including TPPWatch and New Zealand Not For Sale that are calling for a halt to the TPPA and public accountability.

Mr Fleetwood says the free trade agreements harm the democratic rights of workers who make up the majority.

“These agreements are eroding democracy, in favour of control of our economy and society by powerful global corporations.”

He says that maritime workers work in the first globalized industry, the maritime industry, and understand what unregulated "free trade" means.

One example he says is the so-called “open coast” policy, that allows overseas owned and crewed vessels to carry New Zealand cargo between New Zealand ports, and which had devastated New Zealand shipping.

“As a result New Zealand is now a remote island trading nation that has allowed its shipping capability to be placed in jeopardy.”

The fishing industry had also had countless problems over the years with the abuse of overseas crew on overseas vessels fishing New Zealand waters.

Mr Fleetwood says the use of Flag of Convenience vessels and the creation of Ports of Convenience were a warning of where free trade deals could lead a small nation like New Zealand.

“One of the issues the Maritime Union has raised include the use of short-term cross border labour being used, which is becoming increasingly common around the world.”

“This is used to drive down wages and conditions and create a casualized, insecure workforce, hurting both the local workers and the imported workers.”

Other concerns of the Maritime Union include the privatization of assets such as ports and transport.

“New Zealand should be purchasing goods from local and public enterprises, and ensuring we maintain a balanced economy, with secure, high paid jobs.”

Mr Fleetwood says that New Zealand’s economy will always be based on trade, so the Union supported a system of global fair trade that worked to ensure secure jobs and balanced economic development.

He says there is a growing global movement against the deregulated free market and free trade policies that had caused economic disasters such as the global financial meltdown of the last several years.

Public meeting: Tuesday 7th December

6-8 pm St-Matthew-in-the-City, cnr Hobson & Wellesley Sts, Auckland
Main speaker: Prof Jane Kelsey. Commentators Mike Smith, Sanya Read Smith (Third World Network), Andrew Campbell (FinSec) and other international guests

Comments

I am an economic prostitute, my name is New Zealand

What do you expect from political and economic prostitution? This is what this country has been practicing since the late 1980's en large. So is anything going to change by having a few protestors outside? NO. The dumb masses need to be taken to the cleaners even more, start to starve and lose their homes before they wake up! NZ'are as some would say 'docile". I call most of them cowards, opportunists and traitors to their own land and heritage. That is why so many of them rather leave for Australia rather than take a stand and CHANGE things here. We end up with quasi NAZI party kind of government catering for the most ignorant left behind. Who as a cultured, intelligent person really wants to live here? You must suffer from a psychiatric illness or dementia to do so. Good Night and turn the light off - the last one leaving! Thank you Aoteaora

The best comment I've read for a LONG time!

 

Hey Radical, thanks we needed this excellent comment.Join me on facebook.There my name is Lilly Darktower.

Great comment!

sadly ,i have to agree with

sadly ,i have to agree with the above post

TPPA No Good for Maori

http://news.tangatawhenua.com/archives/8430

Te Wharepora Hou, a group of Maori women based in Auckland, supports civil society groups from Australia and New Zealand in opposing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).


As wahine Maori, our long and deeply-held traditional values and understandings of collectivity, of manaakitanga, of kaitiakitanga (Caring for Earth Mother), for Tangaroa (god of the sea) and for their children, is in direct opposition to what is being proposed in the TPPA. The New Zealand government has a responsibility to ensure Tangata Whenua have a voice in these negotiations as part of our Treaty partnership and our rights as Indigenous peoples.


The TPPA represents a significant and disruptive challenge to Maori.
Similar free trade agreements have had devastating impacts on the lives of Indigenous peoples around the world. These agreements have by-passed indigenous involvement at any level. The lack of consultation with Tangata Whenua also contravenes the rights in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is more neoliberal economic restructuring. Maori and Pacific Island communities have already borne the brunt of such policies from the 1980’s and 1990’s.


The TPPA will intensify and increase these negative economic impacts in our communities. Such programmes around the world have successfully extinguished Indigenous rights to lands and resources.


The selling off of our mokopuna and their future must stop.

You can download a fact sheet “Maori, Treaty and the TPPA” here: http://tppwatch.org/what-is-tppa/

Contact: Helen Te Hira 027 2888894

'The dumb masses need to be

'The dumb masses need to be taken to the cleaners even more, start to starve...most of them cowards, opportunists and traitors to their own land and heritage...Who as a cultured, intelligent person really wants to live here? You must suffer from a psychiatric illness or dementia to do so'

A deeply unpleasant statement which shows a contempt for workers - and also for Maori and Pacific Islanders, who make up most of the 'masses' of vulnerable workers in this country. Have you been to the rallies against this bill and talked to the workers there? Did you go to any of the mass rallies against the 90 day legislation? Are you even one of the three hundred and twenty thousand Kiwis who belong to unions? With you wishing starvation on workers and the nutty Black Tulip wanting ro run round placing bombs in brothels, indymedia seems to be plagued by nutcases. The site needs a cleanup.

Helen Te Hira's statement gives a sane left-wing perspective on this issue.

What does ethnicity have to

What does ethnicity have to do with the mutual elimination of trade barriers? I've looked at your 'factsheet' but statements like:

Another of those international treaties that would give massive amounts of power to big foreign companies and allow them to enforce their rights against the government – what Maori have been struggling to secure for over 160 years!

are rhetoric - not analysis. For example, water privatization will happen regardless of the outcome of TPPA negotiations.

The New Zealand government has a responsibility to ensure Tangata Whenua have a voice in these negotiations as part of our Treaty partnership and our rights as Indigenous peoples.

I get it. You'll participate - so long as get your payout. 

The lack of consultation with Tangata Whenua also contravenes the rights in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The UNDRIP is non-binding. Although NZ has expressed support for the Declaration, it has not passed it into law. You can't contravene an obligation you don't have.