Another Free Trade Deal – Big Deal!

The free trade deal with South Korea is hardly earth shattering news. Yet it is being seriously hyped up by the government and those industries that might benefit eventually – the deal takes a full 15 years to take effect and doesn’t include some fairly big ticket items like frozen deer velvet.

Is this overexcitement a cynical PR stunt, an attempt to quell rising opposition to free trade deals? Certainly there were those who were displeased with the large turnouts to the nationwide day of action protesting the TransPacific Partnership ‘trade’ agreement. There is even talk now of big businesses launching a pro-TPP fighting fund. Continue reading

Secrets, Lies, and Trade in Services Agreements

We thought the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement was bad. And then there was TISA. TISA is a world wide Trade in Service Agreement being negotiated in secret.

Even though New Zealand is one of the countries that has been part of negotiations, the first most people will have heard of TISA was via the Wikileaks release last week.

TISA once finalized will cover 68 per cent of world services. It seeks to expand access to foreign markets for private multi national service industries and ensure they receive national and most-favoured nation treatment. The aim is to open up services world wide by doing away with barriers such as: Continue reading

The TPP is like super glue: once we sign it we’re stuck with it

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) involves 11 countries, and if signed would affect all aspects of New Zealand life.

Like super glue, the TPP is binding for the indefinite future. We cannot get out of any part of it by voting out the government the way we usually do when we don’t like the direction the country is heading. Once we sign the TPP, we’re stuck with the TPP.

Yet “it is not in New Zealand’s best interests to confirm or comment on any issue that may be under negotiation,” according Trade Minister Tim Grosser. We simply have to trust the politicians and the corporate heads – yes that’s right corporate heads, all 600 of them – involved in the negotiations. Continue reading

Patents and Intellectual Property Rights: Corporate Power vs The Common Good

One of the Alliance Party’s worst fears around the TPP has been confirmed by the text from the agreement released by Wikileaks recently. The U.S. is pushing for much stricter patent controls.

Patents seem on the face of it, a great idea. They work well at an individual level. You have a bright idea, you patent it so no one else can steal it and you can make a few bob out of it. That’s fine if we’re only talking about new styles of table cutlery or garden hose fittings. But when the discovery is a drug that can cure life threatening diseases or sustainable energy technology that could help to halt global warming, patents are much less benign. Harsh patent laws do not work for the common good of people or the planet. Continue reading

The TPP – It May be Free But It’s Not Fair

Would anyone vote for giant US  tobacco corporation Philip Morris to run our country?  Or chemical and agricultural biotech company Monsanto?  Highly unlikely.  We know that any big  corporate is going to put increasing its profits far above the needs of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

But the TPP agreement, as it stands, could effectively put giant overseas corporations in charge of us all through the investor state dispute settlement clause. Continue reading

Open Letter to Rt Hon Tim Groser Minister of Trade

Dear Minister,
The Alliance Party urges the government not to sign New Zealand up to the Trans-Pacific Agreement. We are convinced this agreement is a major threat to democracy and the sovereignty of all countries involved. It will allow large multinational companies to run roughshod over elected governments and operate contrary to the wishes of the people of the country. We see evidence that this has already begun in New Zealand in the threats of legal action by the big tobacco companies to prevent plain packaging for cigarettes. Continue reading