New Zealanders have turned out in the thousands to protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) – the latest round of which is being negotiated in Beijing tonight.
There were 17 protests here, with more to come in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and the United States.
- AT A GLANCE: What is the TPPA?
The action is timed to coincide with the meeting of trade ministers from the 12 TPPA countries in Beijing, on the fringes of the APEC meeting.
The protestors are worried the deal will enable big companies to overturn laws made by governments wanting to protect their citizens.
The talks are secret, but enough has leaked from TPPA negotiations to prompt big turnouts for protests today, with thousands across Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
They're concerned about the 12-nation deal and say foreign corporates would have the right to sue our government if it introduces legislation that could undermine their business interests.
"Two-thirds of the court cases that are taken globally against governments are by oil and mining companies, so why would Kiwis elect a government if it's not them that are going to make the laws for the rest of us?" says Greenpeace New Zealand's Bunny McDiarmid.
The protesters say leaks indicate decisions in cases between the Government and big companies would be made in secret offshore tribunals by investment lawyers, who would otherwise be working for big companies.
"It's going to radically affect our environment, our health and our culture," says Ms McDiarmid. "It's going to take our right away to make decisions about our future."
But one who has advised past governments on trade is convinced such clauses will be negotiated out.
"We fully expect that the final agreement, once it's concluded, will include provisions which would allow governments to regulate in favour of the environment," says former trade official Stephen Jacobi. "That means that any of these sorts of problems should be well covered."
But one of the protest leaders, University of Auckland professor Jane Kelsey, says Washington wants that clause to be non-negotiable.
"The US Congress has the final say. The US Congress will not accept a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that does not have the right of foreign investors to sue."
Next week leaders of the anti-TPPA movement will begin lobbying MPs to introduce legislation into Parliament that says no future government shall enter into an agreement that includes the right for foreign investors to sue them in offshore tribunals.
source: newshub archive