We Voted For Change. Will We Get It?

It looks like voters will find out sooner rather than later whether they really did get the change of government they voted for.

The TPP partners minus the US are to meet in Japan in the next two weeks to try to revive the deal. Sadly, it appears the content is the same as it has always been, from investor state dispute settlement clauses to lengthened copyright and patent times which will bump up the price of medicine. It is still just a tool to allow corporations, many of which are, ironically, US based, to impose their rules on democratically elected governments to maximise corporate profits.

Prior to becoming the government, the Greens, Labour, and NZ First all spoke out against the TPP. They agreed trade deals need a major overhaul to ensure they work in the best interests of the people and the environment, not big corporations. Based on what was said, it should be safe to assume that New Zealand will not even consider aligning itself with the deal as it stands. Continue reading

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

Tax Free Hideouts, Overseas Investment Thresholds, And The TPP

The government is determined to press ahead with the law changes needed to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership as quickly as possible – before people get their heads around what is really happening. And there is plenty happening.

The Overseas Investment Office is under scrutiny for letting unsuitable buyers buy up land, and the Panama Papers indicate foreign trusts can use New Zealand as a tax haven. At present anyone, anywhere can invest up to $100 million in New Zealand without needing government approval.

Once the TPP is ratified that threshold will be raised to $200 million. Expect the concept of ‘sensitive land’ to get some serious legal scrutiny as well. Which begs the question why even bother with the Overseas Investment Office? Continue reading

Transnational Corporate Tax Shenanigans Need To Stop

It’s official. Many big transnational corporations are not paying their taxes. And the government doesn’t intend to do anything about it.

These corporations inflate the value of the goods and services supplied by their parent company, conveniently located in an offshore low-tax/no-tax haven, to equate to the value of most of their revenue from sales in New Zealand. This is ‘cost of sales’ and can be deducted from the money they make from sales as a business expense. Hey presto, very little ‘profit’. Very little tax to pay. 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

TPPA Protestors Not ‘Rent A Crowd’

The National government would have everyone believe that TPPA protesters are ill-informed, unemployed rabblerousers without anything better to do than make public spectacles of themselves. ‘Rent a crowd’, John Key calls them.

Nothing could be further from the truth. TPPA protesters are very likely the people serving you in shops and restaurants, cleaning your office, teaching your children, caring for you if you end up in hospital or residential care, giving you legal advice. TPPA protesters are a very large and diverse group from all walks of life. Continue reading

TPPA – Is It Time For A Citizens Initiated Referendum?

There have been record turnouts in all the main centres to hear Prof Jane Kelsey and Lori Wallach from Public Citizens Global Trade Watch speak about the reasons not to sign the TPPA.

People have taken to the streets in the thousands for the past two years or more to tell the government they don’t want New Zealand to agree to the TPPA. Online petitions have collects tens of thousands of signatures in a very short of time. The Green Party and New Zealand First don’t want a bar of the TPPA. Now the Labour Party has capitulated. Surely the time has come to flex our democratic muscles? Continue reading