This website was part of a research project supported by a grant from the
School of Law at the University of Auckland to identify and critically
evaluate the potential implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
It is no longer being maintained. For updates on the TPPA from a New Zealand civil society
perspective, please head to http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/.

Open Letter for TPP Transparency gaining in petitioners

release-the-text-letter12 FEBRUARY 2011: TPPWatch report that over 800 individuals and dozens of national representative organisations have now signed a letter calling on NZ Prime Minister John Key to release the text of the TPPA for public scrutiny.

Signatories include the NZ Council Of Trade Unions, Oxfam, church leaders, social justice groups, and IT and open-Internet advocacy groups.

National Distribution Union general secretary Robert Reid says that as the issues being negotiated run deeper than mere trade in goods, and to key issues of economic sovereignty and domestic powers to regulate foreign firms, discussions cannot be conducted in secret. The letter may be seen and signed here.

To coincide with the beginning of the next round of talks, a demonstration is being held at Wellington's Midland Park at 12.45pm on Monday 14th of February, which will then proceed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Lambton Quay.

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 February 2011 04:41
USTR contradict NZ PM on investor-state protections

john_key_13085890958 FEBRUARY 2011: Prime Minister John Key has come in for heavy criticism from some trade commentators and activists, following a statement by Assistant US Trade Representative Barbara Wiesel that a statement of his on the inclusion of investor-state dispute mechanisms in TPP had been retracted.

Last November, Key said that the possibility of investor-state clauses that allowed foreign firms to sue New Zealand in TPP was 'far-fetched'.

Now, Radio New Zealand says Wiesel has stated in a 31 January Washington civil society briefing that NZ's negotiators will now agree to the clause.

Green Party leader Dr Russel Norman immediately seized on the contradiction, saying that Key would have to explain why his previous statements could no longer be relied upon. He went on to warn that the inclusion of the provisions could affect NZ's ability to enact anti-smoking legislation, place restrictions on foreign ownership, and and Pharmac's independent purchasing choices.

Dr Norman also added that this highlighted the need for the text to be publicly released rather than negotiated in secrecy.

Professor Jane Kelsey has speculated that Key's response indicated that he "did not know what his negotiators were proposing to do when he described investor-state enforcement as 'far-fetched'; or he was lying to the New Zealand public; or he buckled to pressure from the US...to agree." She added that Key needed to be upfront about his exact intentions before the fifth round of negotiations commenced on 14 February in Chile.

Key subsequently said he had never retracted his comments, and that they applied to the possibility of civil suits rather than the inclusion of the provision itself.

The Radio NZ story can be heard here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 February 2011 04:18
Former USTR Head to Chair US-NZ Partnership Forum

chch23 JANUARY 2011: The southern New Zealand city of Christchurch will be visited by a number of high-level US officials at the United States New Zealand Partnership Forum next month.

The Press reports that Bush Administration USTR Susan Schwab will co-chair the forum, joined by former Senator and Govenor of Indiana Evan Bayh.

Executive Director of the NZ-US Council Stephen Jacobi has indicated the forum will 'assess how to move forward together on issues such as political security, trade and investment, education, science, and other global issues like climate change'.

The full press release appears below.

NZ Campaigners Launch 'Release The Text' Movement

nzprotests21 JANUARY 2011: TPPWatch, a coalition of NZ unions and NGO's, has launched a 'release the TPP text' sign-on letter to be sent to Prime Minister John Key.

TPPwatch spokesperson Andrew Campbell, the campaign spokesperson, says TPPWatch are seeking open public debate on the proposed deal.

Campbell warns that the deal has the potential to increase the cost of pharmaceuticals, limit government controls over tobacco sales, and give foreign owners increased contgrol of strategic assets.

TPPwatch's press release for 'Release The Text' can be read here. Their official campaign page is here.

Those who sign on to the letter may also be interested in attending a TPPA Teach-In and Strategy Gathering in Christchurch on 20 February. Held at the same time as the US-NZ Partnership Forum, which will be closed to the public. The keynote speakers will include Professor Jane Kelsey, NZCTU economist Bill Rosenberg, and CAFCA's Murray Horton. The intended outcome of the Teach-In is the consolidation of a national network, and a declaration which can outline an alternative trade and foreign policy agenda to that between the NZ and US governments.

The gathering will take place from 10am to 4pm on Sunday February 20, at the Christchurch Community Law Centre at 281 Madras Street.


Last Updated on Saturday, 05 February 2011 03:42
Tobacco company argues wisdom of TPP investor-state provisions

smoking_large20 JANUARY 2011: The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Phillip Morris may be using Australia's shift to implement plain packaging on cigarettes and tobacco as an example of 'extreme and disproportionate' legislation that the TPP should be able to challenge through 'investor-state' provisions.

Australia's Labor government announced last April that cigarettes would have to be sold in plain packaging from mid-2012, which would be a world first.

In a submission on the proposed trade agreement to the US Trade Representative, Philip Morris described the plain-packaging laws as an 'initiative of concern' which would allegedly violate international law and intellectual property rights.

Australian Minister for Trade Craig Emerson has offered no committment either way on the inclusion of investor-state provisions in the TPP, but has indicated that an attempt by any tobacco company to undermine Australian anti-tobacco legislation would be so much 'whistling in the wind'.

Thomas Faunce of the Australian National University has suggested in a paper for the Medical Journal of Australia that in the event of such provisions being included, Australia and other countries could initiated an interpretative declaration limiting their effect on the area of public health. Alternatively, he suggests a clause in the agreement could require that non-discriminatory legislation in the pursuit of public health and safety not be deemed expropriatory or compensable for damages.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 February 2011 03:56
US intends to hold off tabling intellectual policy proposal at next TPP round

stealacar19 JANUARY 2010: Inside US Trade reports that the US will hold off tabling a full and formal chapter on IP rights at the next round of TPP talks in Chile because of a need to carry out intra-agency and congressional consultation on areas of potential controversy.

An official reportedly indicated 'very wide' differences of opinion among US stakeholders, and is urging private-sector ones to handle suggestions on how to best handle hotter topics.

It is understood that one such contentious area is that of 'secondary liability' on Internet firms for violations of copyright by individuals. The US was intending to include this in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), but the final language of that text as of August last year made the imposition of secondary liability on Internet firms optional. Secondary liability is strongly advocated by US movie and recording industry producers.

Further complicating the issue is the May 10 2007 agreement between the then-Bush administration and House Democrats on IPR, which relaxed stringent provisions on data exclusivity, patent linkage, and patent term extension. US industry groups oppose the retention of these relaxed provisions in the TPP context.

Overall, US private-sector groups say IP has been one of the slowest progressing areas of discussion in TPP talks to date. As previously reported, NZ has already drafted a paper opposing US approaches on IP and suggesting that the protections in TPP be limited to those already established under the multilateral WTO TRIPS agreement.

However, other sources are indicating Australia may end up being an ally of the US in the push for stronger IP protections. Additionally, sources have speculated that NZ's stance on IP is a negotiating tactic which they may relent on should they get the agricultural and dairy access in the US market they desire.

Professor Jane Kelsey has criticised the bid by USTR negotiatiors to make secondary liability a part of TPP intellectual property provisions. She released the press release below the break, warning that the move could 'reignite the hugely successful international campaign against secondary liability that followed the leak of the (local) ACTA text', on January 17.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 February 2011 00:24
NZ Herald op-ed questions wisdom of TPP

Sky112 JANUARY 2011: Senior commercial law lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School Gehan Gunasekra has written a guest piece for the NZ Herald, in which he cautions the NZ government against forsaking its independence and greater trade leverage elsewhere for the 'Holy Grail' of a TPP agreement with the United States:


"...First, consider the economic implications. A free-trade agreement with the US has been the Holy Grail for both major political parties, but would it be a panacea for our economy as some have suggested?

A quick reality check would reveal that the Australia-US agreement has not yielded the results Australians had hoped for and considerable resentment now exists in that country as a consequence. It is not surprising that the terms of such deals inevitably favour the larger party...


...to be fair, it should be noted that the free-trade agreement with China has thus far not proved to be a bed of roses, either, and has yet to deliver its promised benefits. However, the Chinese economy is growing at more than twice the rate of the US economy even during the US heyday, whereas in its current sickly state the US market is both stagnant as well as saturated by imports.

As the "first mover" in China (thanks to the Clark government's initiative) New Zealand has considerable leverage still to exert there."

The full article may be read online at the Herald here.

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