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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
Agreement.
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/.

Tobacco Lobby Submissions On TPP Concern NZ Green Party

russelnorman12 DECEMBER 2010: New Zealand's Green Party has renewed criticism of the TPP negotiations following their discovery of a Philip Morris submission to the US government on the negotiations demanding that any such deal allow their firm to challenge member states' regulation of cigarette packaging or bans on tobacco products.

Wellington's Dominion Post reports Greens co-leader Dr. Russel Norman as saying the submission raises real concerns about 'beyond the border restrictions' under the TPP, adding that 'most New Zealanders will be shocked to learn...Philip Morris is using trade agreements to try and stop governments from introducting anti-smoking measures. NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser could not be reached for comment.

Philip Morris's parent company, Altria Group, Inc, is presently suing Uruguay's government for trying to enforce a law requiring graphic warnings covering at least 80% of cigarette packets. It claims the domestic law violates trademark rights enforceable under Uruguay's free-trade agreement with Switzerland, where Altria has a base. More can be read about that case here. The original Philip Morris submission to USTR is available here.

 

 
Civil Society Groups call for TPP Negotiators to 'Release the Text'

negotiating_table11 DECEMBER 2010: As the fourth round of TPP talks wrapped up in Auckland, an alliance of civil society groups across the negotiating countries has announced the launch of a concerted campaign to "release the text" of the proposed agreement ahead of the next round of talks in Chile (February 2011).

In a press release to herald the campaign launch, Professor Jane Kelsey explained that the text "would reach deep behind the border into the realm of domestic policy and regulation, super-imposing enforceable constraints over decisions for which...elected parliaments and local governments are currently responsible." It is understood that draft texts relating to reform of financial services and investment among the nine negotiating nations are now on the table.

The alliance has rubbished the claim from negotiators that the release of a text is 'unprecedented', noting that all parties are also WTO members, and that the multilateral organ isation routinely provides position papers and draft texts online.

Chief NZ negotiator Mark Sinclair has already expressed surprise at the level of interest, saying that he will look at ways to shed more light on the topics being discussed, but stopping well short of saying a release of the text before the agreement is finalised would be considered.

Professor Kelsey goes on to compare the current talks unfavourably to domestic contexts, noting that most TPP members would not tolerate such a lack of transparency and accountability in their own legislation. Her press release on the campaign launch appears below.

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Inside US Trade: Business Coalition Unveiling New IP Wishlist For TPP
circuit-boardsDECEMBER 5 2010:

The December 3 edition of Inside US Trade reports that a draft paper which has now been finalized and submitted to the Office of the US Trade Representative by a coalition of US businesses is urging US negotiators to actively shape IP regimes in other TPP countries in order to protect US geographical indicators (GI’s). Apart from protecting certain GI’s already existing in the US, the coalition wants the policy to make certain products produced in ‘significant quantities’ outside a proposed protected region (for example, ‘feta’ cheese) ineligible for GI protection. This is intended to help current US manufacturers and producers and save them the loss or cost of relabelling and rebranding.

As well, the paper requests that US negotiators replicate the IP provisions of the as-yet unsigned US-Korea trade agreement as a baseline to a text, especially in the area of patents and copyrights. It also asks for punitive protections extending beyond those in the current version of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), such as a requirement that TPP states outlaw filming in theatres.

The paper, written by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), also suggests that the TPP go beyond the US-Korea FTA in terms of software patents. These are traditionally a contentious area of IP rights, with critics arguing that patenting software effectively grants property rights over formulas and algorithims (ie: knowledge itself, rather than new physical inventions or processes).
The paper also contains implicit criticism of New Zealand’s public pharmaceutical purchaser, Pharmac. At one point, it urges drafters to deal with regulatory barriers which ‘have the effect of delaying or restricting access to innovative medicines to patients’. NZ is also cited as a TPP country that has yet to fully implement requirements of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)’s Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

 
Further media from wrapup of Auckland TPP talks

12 DECEMBER 2010: The conclusion of the fourth round of TPP talks in Auckland has seen more smoke than fire from both media and official sources alike, with the substantive detail of what was discussed at the negotiating table kept under wraps.

Following the lead of USTR, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs And Trade has provided a summary of some developments of the week's talks. They indicate that particular sessions were held involving 'horizontal' issues of regulatory coherence, the future for small and medium-sized enterprises, and supply chains. Chief MFAT negotiator Mark Sinclair also held a press briefing on Wednesday 8 December with media, which can be heard here.

The USTR praised the 'steady progress' of talks, letting on that the necessary technical details have been finalised to prepare initial goods market access offers and that these will be exchanged in January.

Outside the talks themselves, there was active public discussion around the talks. NZ union leader and political commentator Matt McCarten had a feature editorial about the talks in the Herald on Sunday, while Scoop has published audio from Jane Kelsey, Sanya Reid Smith, Mike Smith, and Andrew Campbell's talk on the TPP at St Matthew's Church on Tuesday 7 December. A report on the end of talks from Business Day follows below.

 

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Auckland TPP Talks: Further Media Coverage

skytower9 DECEMBER 2010: Media scrutiny and discussion of TPP negotiations has continued in earnest this week, even as much of the debate turns around how much of those negotiations the media and the public can see.

A number of activist groups have called for the negotiating text, rumoured to be being assembled for the first time at Auckland talks, to be made open, with the NZ national union body's economist saying some of the items being negotiated were 'more important than legislation'. The call has been backed by some business groups as well, with small businesses especially worried that the TPP could see them shut out of government contracts in favour of foreign firms.

BusinessDay reported CTU chief economist Bill Rosenberg warned that trade simple was a 'very small part' of the envisaged agreement, compared to the potential foreign investment regulations and IP reforms a TPP may contain. However, Stephen Jacobi of the US-NZ Business Council lobby has warned that any early release of sensitive information akin to what the CTU is demanding would 'undermine negotiations', saying that if the final agreement is not in NZ's national interest, "(it) doesn't have to sign it".

Meanwhile, former Waikato University vice-chancellor Bryan Gould has written an editorial for the Herald warning against the 'potentially-far-reaching consequences' of TPP, and Tim Watkin of Pundit has criticised NZ MP Heather Roy for claiming that the country's nuclear-free stance will prevent any chance of a TPP agreement with the United States while also warning about the agreement's trade-offs.

 
Protest, Coverage, Campaign Ads Mark Beginning Of Auckland Talks

 

 

auckland
7 SEPTEMBER 2010:
Actions by activists and civil society groups, unprecedented amounts of local coverage, and a major newspaper ad by New Zealand TPP opponents marked the beginning of the Auckland round of talks yesterday.

The NZ Herald ran an advertisement from a mixture of fourteen New Zealand celebrities, politicians, trade unionists, and academics - encouraging the reader to become the fifteenth 'reason to challenge the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement'.

A crowd of over 30 protesters gathered for an early-morning demonstration outside the CBD SkyCity Convention Centre, where talks are being held, while the co-leader of at least one NZ political party expressing concern about the final outcome of the agreement.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman told state broadcaster TVNZ that NZ's overseas investment regime may be targeted if the agreement is successful, while also drawing attention to his fears about investor-state dispute mechanisms. Norman called for PM John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser to publicly undertake that no 'NAFTA-style' mechanisms would be included in TPP.

The Dominion Post ran an article with more optimistic predictions on the TPP from Groser and New Zealand-US Business Council executive director Stephen Jacobi, although neither dwelled on possible changes to existing investment frameworks.

Speaking in Parliament on Groser's behalf today, Acting Trade Minister Murray McCully said he could offer no guarantees that existing NZ policies would not be changed as a consequence of TPP, but indicated that NZ negotiators would take an 'interest-based' approach at talks.

Photos of the Monday demonstration follow below.

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Dozens of Australian, NZ civil society groups write to oppose ‘unjust’ investment provisions in TPP
auckland4 DECEMBER 2010: Ahead of the commencement of the fourth round of TPP talks at Auckland’s SkyCity convention centre, Australian and New Zealand civil society groups have issued a press release urging Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and John Key to adopt a progressive and balanced approach to foreign investment during the talks.

A joint letter signed by 43 organisations urges Australian and NZ negotiators to reject anticipated US demands for the sort of investor-state enforcement mechanisms included in previous US FTAs.

Australia previously refused to incorporate such agreements in its 2005 FTA with the US. Professor Jane Kelsey, who coordinated the open letter on New Zealand’s side, has applauded the steps already taken to dismiss the idea of such provisions by both governments,  but suggests that Australia and NZ go further by negotiating an agreement that “that rebalances investor rights with enforceable responsibilities and restores the primacy of national sovereignty and democratic control over investment-related decisions”.

The letter can be read here. A press release covering the rationales behind the letter appears below.

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