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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/.

Protests and Public Meetings to Coincide with the Auckland TPP talks

nzprotests5 DECEMBER 2010: Members of the public who want to demonstrate their opposition to a NAFTA-style TPP and hear from alternative TPP experts and commentators this week in Auckland have three great opportunities to do so, with two public demonstrations on Monday and a public meeting on Tuesday 7 December.

Information is as follows:

Protests:  Monday 6th December: “No to the TPPA. Stop Gambling with Our Future
8.30am, SKYCITY Convention Centre, Federal Street, Auckland

5.30pm, Voyager Maritime Museum, Corner Quay and Hobson Streets, Auckland Viaduct Basin

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(
The views expressed during this event are not necessarily those of St Matthew-in-the-City)

The Tuesday event is free. All members of the public are completely welcome to all events, whether they consider themselves well-familiarised with free trade agreements or whether they are anxious to learn more about what they may contain and NZ’s role within them.

Also note that Jane Kelsey and Third World Network's Sanya Read Smith, who will be present in Auckland for the talks, will each be speaking about the leak and other TPP issues at a media briefing at the Welcome Room, Sky City Hotel, at 3pm on Monday 6 December. All media are welcome for this event.

While a number of key activities and discussions will be private and not open to the media, those not attending the talks but following them locally during the week may be interested in this programme of stakeholders' events. It includes presentations by both business and civil society groups, including Council of Trade Unions chief economist Bill Rosenberg and Agcarm Chief Executive Graeme Peters. Thursday and Friday's seminars are devoted to environmental issues and the question of how the TPP will deal with these.

 
Top US Unionist Warns NZ Labour Law Amendment May Affect AFL-CIO Support
hobbithole5 DECEMBER 2010: The NZ Herald’s Fran O’Sullivan reports that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote to NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser a fortnight ahead of this week’s talks, warning that a change to New Zealand’s employment laws recently passed under urgency may have prematurely jeopardized US union support of NZ inclusion in the TPP.

In late October, New Zealand’s parliament passed the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill, the effect of which was to make film industry workers by default independent contractors, rather than employees. Previously, New Zealand’s Employment Relations Act required courts to interpret the ‘real nature’ of the work undertaken to determine whether a worker was in fact an employee or contractor. The extra-contractual nature of this interpretation exercise is also taken by employment courts in Australia, the US, the UK, and Canada.

The Bill excluded all workers who undertake ‘film production work’ from the definition of employee. It was passed as a reassurance to MGM Studios, who were threatening to move filming of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit to the Czech Republic following a dispute between actors’ unions and the studio which MGM claimed would make continued production in New Zealand untenable.

Trumka’s November 15 letter to Groser said that the “misclassification” contained in the Bill represented a “serious problem” which deprived workers of the right to organize and bargain collectively.

He want to say that the Bill “would violate the labour provisions of any future trade agreement between our two countries that we could support."

The Herald goes on to report that NZ Industrial Relations Minister Kate Wilkinson will respond to Trumka’s letter, re-affirming her government’s view that the law change reflects the realities of the film industry without preventing film production workers from being employed as employees where all parties in a contract agree.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 December 2010 11:28
 
New Zealand Negotiation Paper Reveals Rift With US On IP, Pharmac
pharmaceuticals15 DECEMBER 2010: A leaked negotiating document from New Zealand’s TPP talks has revealed a fundamental conflict between US and NZ positions on intellectual property in a possible agreement.

At the weekend, Public Citizen released the confidential paper, combined with analysis. It rebuffs the US’s ‘high-standard’ IP rights provisions as included in their recent bilateral trade agreements, particularly as they apply to medicine, entertainment and software patents.

The tenor of the New Zealand paper absolutely goes against that of a briefing  paper to USTR negotiators previously covered by Inside US Trade and this site, in which US pharmaceutical companies singled out Pharmac as a non-tariff trade barrier which would pose a problem in negotiations.

The NZ paper goes on to recognize the effect of recent domestic debates on IP, including the 2009 controversy around proposed and abandoned changes to the Copyright Act and the recently concluded Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). As it says, such debates ‘are taking on a significant political dimension in many of our societies. Many IP users as well as some innovators have become mobilised to oppose the further strengthening of IP rights’.

Although the proposed Copyright Act changes were first initiated by the previous Labour government, the grassroots movement against them was one of the first direct public challenges to John Key’s government post-2008. The government has also continued to face scrutiny from Maori iwi about how its IP laws are used for their traditional indigenous art, design, and knowledge. The Key government was also criticized for the secrecy under which Wellington-based ACTA negotiations were conducted, a point also acknowledged in the paper.

Public Citizen’s press release on the leak can be found here or by reading more below. An executive summary can be read here. Third World Network has also analysed the paper, and Jane Kelsey and TWN's Sanya Read Smith will each be speaking about the leak and other TPP issues at a media briefing at the Welcome Room, Sky City Hotel, at 3pm on Monday 6 December (all media welcome).

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 December 2010 11:33
Read more...
 
NZ’s Green Party Asks Questions In Parliament on TPP, Investor-State Disputes
nzcountryside26 NOVEMBER 2010: The Green Party, currently in opposition in New Zealand’s parliament, have strengthened their statements on the TPP ahead of the Auckland Round.

Co-leader Dr Russel Norman has questioned Trade Minister Tim Groser on his claims that fears that investors may be able to sue governments for breaches of trade agreements such as TPP are ‘far-fetched’, particularly in relation to what potential provision exists in the current NZ-China agreement. When Norman asked whether Prime Minister John Key would rule out NZ’s TPP membership if it includes investor-state mechanisms that allow investors to sue governments, Groser indicated that negotiators would ‘look carefully’ at the provisions and give an ‘unqualified assurance’ to the NZ public that they would “carefully safeguard the sovereignty of New Zealand to entertain good public policy in accordance with the principles of open government.”


The full transcript from NZ’s Parliamentary Debates may be read below. Dr. Norman has also given his impression as to Tim Groser’s responses on the Green Party’s official blog.

Read more...
 
Negotiations on text likely at Auckland round
auckland25 NOVEMBER 2010:

Dow Jones and other trade and finance sources report that TPP negotiators are looking to begin assembling a negotiating text during the fourth round of talks in Auckland. On a public hearing on Malaysia’s entry into talks following the third round, Assistant USTR Barbara Weisel has encouraged business and other groups to ‘move quickly’ to provide input due the fast pace of negotiations.

 
APEC Conference: Key ‘talks tough’, Japan consider TPP, Vietnam become full TPP member
naoto-kan24 NOVEMBER 2010: Over the course of the APEC Leaders’ Conference in Yokohama, TPP side-developments have continued apace, in part due the the Japanese government’s continued interest in the partnership.

The NZ Herald’s coverage of PM John Key’s APEC statements noted that he has drawn a hard line on agriculture, reported as saying that New Zealand ‘will not want
Japan at the table’ if it attempts to exclude agriculture from any trade deal.

He added that Japan would need to enter TPP ‘only on (New Zealand’s) terms’.

To other TPP partners, he urged that they hold firm on existing criteria and conditions rather than relaxing any entry barriers and allowing compromises for Japan to join talks, while reiterating NZ’s desire to negotiate a ‘high-quality, comprehensive’ agreement.

Leading up to the talks, Japan’s nationwide polls showed nearly half of respondents supported Japan joining the TPP. However, Japanese agricultural and forestry workers have demonstrated en masse against the prospect of talks and Japanese PM Naoto Kan’s own ruling Democratic Party have urged him to temporarily abandon the free-trade drive. Ultimately, Japan indicated at the end of APEC that it would not make a decision on joining TPP until June 2011. This may be too late for Japan to join as a negotiating partner however; it may be required to accede to a complete agreement if one is completed.

Meanwhile, at a sideline summit of TPP members, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet confirmed that his country would henceforth participate as a full member of the talks. Previously, it had held ‘observer status’, and had been required to decide before the Auckland round of talks whether it would shift to full membership.

Kan’s appearance at that summit was considered contentious enough in Japan that American officials banned television cameras from attending the meeting. The Herald’s John Armstrong reported that this had annoyed some other delegations to the summit.

A NZ Herald article on Key’s results from APEC (which also included a signal to begin non-TPP negotiations with Russia) and a CNEO piece on Japanese opposition to TPP talks appear below.

Read more...
 
NZ PM Key Speaks Against Investor-Dispute Mechanisms In Press Briefing
North.island.arp.300pix20 NOVEMBER 2010: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has briefly indicated that he would not support investor-state dispute rules that allowed foreign firms to sue TPP governments in a press conference.

Responding to a reporter’s question about No Ordinary Deal and its discussion about the potential liabilities NZ could face under such provisions, Key responded as follows:

*

“Well, I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the piece Jane Kelsey wrote in the NZ Herald. I disagree with it.”

<The same reporter asks him to respond specifically to anxieties about investor-state dispute provisions>

“Far-fetched.”

Reporter: 'Well, it’s in NAFTA. Is that sort of thing being sought or is it being negotiated?”

“Not as far as I’m aware.”

<Reporter mentions Australian resistance to such mechanisms>

“Well, we would too. It’s pretty far-fetched. Look we can have a long debate about the merits of free trade, but New Zealand’s experience of FTA’s is that they create jobs, they build the economy, they deliver competitiveness and robustness and they’re good for New Zealand…there’ll always be some detractors from that view, and that’s life, but overwhelmingly I think the consensus view in New Zealand is going down the path of free-trade agreements as being good for our economy, good for jobs, good for wages.”

<Reporter notes that that doesn’t appear to be the consensus view of the American public in relation to NAFTA and other free trade agreements>

“Well, they’re entitled to their views. I can’t speak for the American people, but in New Zealand, I think if you go all the way to CER, there were plenty of detractors from CER, but actually it’s been very successful.”

Reporter: 'But isn’t there a difference between NAFTA and CER?

“Yup. CER’s between Australia and New Zealand, and NAFTA’s between the US and Mexico. I must go, thank you very much.”

*

The audio of Key’s post-APEC conference appears here. The end of the APEC conference has coincided with more sceptical pieces of NZ press on the merits of a TPP agreement, including a column by Gordon Campbell on Scoop.co.nz and a piece by Brian Fallow in the New Zealand Herald.

 
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