News 27/02: NZ Court hands out landmark judgment on foreign investment. NZ Ambassador to US censured after hosting tobacco TPP event. Malaysia considers union response . PDF Print E-mail

1. The biggest development of the month in NZ trade news has been the decision of a High Court judge ruling that the government's Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reconsider the economic benefits of its decision to allow Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy 16 large New Zealand dairy farms. A number of consequential cases have arisen, including a challenge by two NZ Maori tribes against the involvement of two New Zealand government agencies in in Shanghai Penxin's bid, and a challenge to the High Court's ruling by the same rival consortium who sought his declaration in the first place, believing that he erred in saying that Shanghai Penxin had the necessary acumen and expertise to operate the farms. Although the opposition Labour Party took a pro-free trade and foreign investment stance, and negotiated an FTA with China, they have come out in support of the High Court's ruling and oppose the sale to Shanghai Penxin.

NZ commentators have produced useful analyses of the situation - free-trade advocate and business columnist Fran O'Sullivan has written for the NZ Herald on the outcome (1 2) while the paper's main political reporter, John Armstrong, anticipates that foreign investment may prove to be PM John Key's most intractable problem this term. Opponents of unfettered free-trade, including economist Bernard Hickey and journalist Tim Watkin have provided further commentary. Gordon Campbell of Scoop provides a detailed and valuable comparison of the Crafar Farms ruling and the NZ-China FTA.

2. The New Zealand ambassador to the US, Mike Moore, is facing calls to be sacked from his position after hosting a World Trade Reception sponsored by tobacco company Phillip Morris and other large US corporations given the large number of tobacco-related deaths in NZ's Maori community.

3. ftamalaysia.org reports that Malaysian Trades Union Congress head Khalid Atan has expressed his opinion that the country 800,000 strong trade union movements should mobilise against the TPP and other other FTAs the Malaysian government is negotiating.

4. The Charlotte Observer reports on moves by US tobacco farmers and companies to ensure that their industry is protected in a TPP agreement, against the protestations of public health associations.

5. USTR Deputy Representative Demetrios Marantis has visited Hanoi for three days to discuss anticipated revisions of Vietnam's labour and human rights policies in light of the TPP. The USTR has also held meetings in the past fortnight to discuss Mexico's interest in participating in the TPP and a two-day consultation with Japan regarding their interest in participating the TPP.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:50

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