Labour's foreign ownership of property policy raises TPP11 stakes

TPP deal
Professor Kelsey said deliberately closing the door on a future government's policy so close to an election was constitutionally improper. Photo credit: File

The stakes have been raised ahead of this months' TPP11 meeting after Labour's new policy announcement, Auckland University law professor and TPP critic Jane Kelsey says.

In a statement outlining the party's top priorities over the first 100 days if elected, leader of the party Jacinda Ardern on Sunday said Labour would restrict foreign ownership of residential properties.

Professor Kelsey said this announcement raises the stakes ahead of this months' meeting in Japan of the 11 remaining countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, known as TPP11. 

Professor Kelsey said the New Zealand contingency has insisted that countries cannot revise their commitments on the contentious investment provisions in the agreement.

"That means re-opening their so-called 'market access' schedules, which includes the schedules of measures each country wants to keep that don't conform to the agreement's rules for investment, or 'non-conforming measures'".

She said this is where it has committed New Zealand never to introduce the kinds of restrictions on foreign ownership of property that Labour has proposed.

"National will be reluctant to make the relatively minor adjustments sought by Labour, because that could open the way for other countries' to revisit their own schedules".

While the date for the meeting has not yet been set, the conference will see each nation state the list of provisions it seeks to push through trade deals to be announced at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November.

She said it would be interesting to see what National does if the Japan meeting pre-empts this months' election.

"Will it ask for this exclusion - opening up the list of commitments and exclusions to changes by other countries as well, or will it deny a new government the right to carry out its election pledge?".

Deliberately closing the door on a future government's policy options so close to an election was constitutionally improper, she said.

"Trade Minister Todd McClay needs to be upfront about what he's saying on our behalf in the negotiations and assure New Zealanders the Government won't be tabling any firm positions before the election".