The TPP Is Gone, John, Time To Move On

Our Prime Minister, John Key, seems to be struggling to come to terms with the fact that the TPP is gone. The battle has been lost. The US will never accept it without major concessions like a 12 year patent period on biologics. US Pharmaceutical Corporations’ profits versus people’s access to lifesaving medicine. People’s lives versus making a few people very rich. It’s a no-brainer. We cannot go there and neither can the other 10 participating countries.

Time to move on. But not to other deals of the same ilk – albeit without the US as Mr Key is hoping against hope. Time to talk in wider terms than just businesses in one country’s desire to exploit people in another country. All in the name of ever expanding, ever increasing profits. Continue reading

Fair Trade Agreements Are The Way Of The Future

Many New Zealanders have spent the best part of the last two years fighting that misnamed “free trade” agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with no end in sight. And now we have its spawn, TISA (Trades In Services Agreement) and PACER-Plus (a Pacific free trade and investment agreement covering 14 Pacific Island countries, plus Australia and New Zealand), to contend with. The Europeans have their equivalent in the TTIP, and they don’t like it any more than we do. Continue reading

Why Does Anyone Want A 70-year Copyright Term?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Amendment Bill passed its first reading last week by three votes. Those in favour: National, ACT, United Future, and Phil Goff.

What National, ACT, United Future, and Phil Goff mainly voted to do was increase our copyright term to 70 years after the death of the artist or after it is first made available to the public, depending on who holds the copyright. Why? Continue reading

Who Benefits Most From TPPA Tariff Reductions?

Tariffs exist to protect local enterprises from perceived unfair competition from overseas competitors. Tariffs are a two-edged sword. Tariffs may mean less access to markets for exporters, higher prices, and less choice for consumers, but they also may mean better quality goods and more jobs for locals, with better pay and working conditions.

The Transpacific Partnership views all tariffs as bad. The TPPA encourages signatory countries to do away with tariffs. For our government it has been one of the agreement’s biggest selling points. New Zealand jumped the gun and did away with most of our tariffs in the 1980s and 90s. Most other countries did not follow suit. Continue reading

Neoliberalism is Nasty

If we learn nothing else from the TPP debacle, it is that Neoliberalism is nasty. And its proponents are hypocrites.

One of the main sticking points in TPP negotiations now is the protection period, that’s right, protection period, on the use of clinical data behind the approval of new biological drugs. One would assume the TPP would be arguing for little or no protection period. After all, it is about removing barriers to trade; we are told so, repeatedly. But no, the proposed 12 year protection period is at least double what most of the signatory countries now have. The TPP is surely not about free trade. Continue reading

Throw Away the TPPA; Let’s Talk About What A Decent Trade Deal Should Look Like

The New York Times reported after the recently failed round of talks that one of the TPP negotiators has privately admitted that it is now almost easier to say “no” to the TPP than “yes”. It’s time to admit the TPP is a crock, throw it away and start again.

Unfortunately, promoters of the TPP have framed the debate as those who are for trade (“trade” meaning the TPP) versus those who are against trade. This has meant that many groups who have nothing to gain and much to lose, such as small businesses, have supported the TPP. They want to trade and they have been led to believe there is no alternative to the TPP. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now that talks have stalled it is a great time to seize the initiative and reframe the debate. Continue reading

Hawaii: A Watershed For The TPP?

Despite the hype, trade negotiators walked away from the latest round of Trans Pacific Partnership talks. They put on a brave face. They were 98% in agreement, so they say. And each participating country was quick to point out it wasn’t their fault negotiations failed. They bargained in good faith.

But fail they did, and for that the people of New Zealand and all the other countries involved should be truly grateful. The TPP is not a deal that will benefit any of us unless we have shares in one of the massive multinational corporations that would call the shots if the deal went ahead. Continue reading

What’s Next, Privatizing Air?

Not one but two trade deals, the TPP and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) are percolating over the holiday period. The TPP will allow corporates to set the rules for over 40% of world trade. TISA will break open financial and other services, even essential infrastructure and social services, to make it easier for corporates to come in and take control, profits, and our privacy off to whatever tax haven they are registered in. Continue reading