Controversial TPP-11 provisions remain unresolved

The first session of the three-day Trans Pacific Partnership senior leaders meeting in Sydney this week. Photo credit: Reuters

New Zealand is now facing a re-negotiation of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on the cusp of an election.

Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey has critiqued the timing of the meeting between the nations involved in the negotiations in Sydney earlier this week.

The well-known critic of the trade deal said it was "simply unacceptable" that the National Party would continue to make decisions in secret on such a sensitive matter in the midst of an election campaign.

Professor Kelsey said other political parties must be consulted in the lead-up to the next round of negotiations in September.

"Bill English considered it appropriate to consult on a minor change in a deployment to Afghanistan, so a renegotiation of the TPPA text demands at least the same."

Each country is supposed to bring a list of changes it seeks to the next meeting of the TPPA-11 chief negotiators in Japan later in September to finalise proposals for their ministers when they meet in Vietnam in November.

"National cannot do this in the midst of the election in secret. It must include the public and the other political parties in preparing New Zealand's list of requests for changes to this deeply unpopular agreement."

She said throughout this weeks' meetings all 11 countries remaining in the TPPA agreed to suspend some parts of the agreement unless, or until, the US re-joins.

Further, some are demanding that parts of the text are re-opened.

She said Canada and Mexico want a quick decision to suspend various TPPA provision that the Trump administration will demand in its renegotiation on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Other countries will insist on re-opening parts of the text to withdraw concessions they agreed on tariffs in the expectation of access to the US market, she said.

"Vietnam will want to drop the chapter on state-owned enterprises; Malaysia will undoubtedly seek to revisit the restrictions on government procurement."

It has also been reported that the controversial monopoly of marketing exclusivity for certain medicines and extensions on patent terms are among provisions to be suspended.

This news follows an open letter from the international health community, including the World Public Health Association and the New Zealand Medical Association, to trade and health ministers of the 11 countries earlier in the week.

The letter called for a complete re-negotiation of the agreements, but if not granted this, then the suspension of provisions that would cause the most harm to peoples' health.

Professor Kelsey said a number of countries "made it clear they weren't prepared to give US pharmaceutical companies the benefits of TPPA for free.

"Sadly, the National Government wasn't among them. At least they eventually joined the consensus."

But the future of other controversial provisions, particularly those relating to investment and the right of foreign companies to sue governments in offshore tribunals, have not been resolved.